Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Three Summer Science Institutes 2008

jrlewis's picture

The K-12 Summer Institutes are a great program with their achievement evidenced by the numerous returning participants.  Clearly, the participants’ expectations are either met of exceeded or they would not return.  Another significant success, was the continuing engagement of participants involved in multiple institutes this summer.  This indicates that each institute significantly different material. 

Despite the different topics they addressed, there were some themes common to all the institutes.  They all advocated an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach to education.  Each of them discussed and incorporated the use of computers and technology in the classroom.  These themes are consistent with those stated for the institutes on Serendip. 

Lastly, all three institutes might have made better use of their interns.  The interns could be utilized for preparation and post presentation cleaning up.  The techniques and technology presented could be introduced to the interns beforehand.  This would allow them to develop and understanding of the materials, which they could use to help the teachers troubleshoot.  Such a practice could contribute to the institutes running smoothly and a decrease in participant frustration. 

Both the Brain and Behavior Institute and Computer Science Education Institute asked for daily feedback about the program from the participants.  This procedure insured that the participants reflected on the material and voiced their thoughts while they were fresh in their heads.  Also, it allowed the professors or presenters tailor their work to the interests of the teachers and address any issues in a timely meaningful fashion.  I think that it would be beneficial to the Science as Inquiry institute to ask more aggressively for participant thoughts.  It could be made a daily requirement of the institute or provided specific time in the schedule. 

The Brain and Behavior institute and the Science as a Inquiry institutes both required the participants to create and present something related to the institute materials.  These projects were a great technique for actively engaging the participants with the material.  They require to the participants to internalize the concepts discussed.  The projects provided a way the presenters to evaluate the relative success of their work.  The Computer Science Education institute could incorporate participant projects into its structure.  The participants might be asked to use one of the presentations as a source for a brief project or presentation of their own.  A group presentation or viewing time might be scheduled for the last session of the institute. 

As a current student and aspiring teacher, I was able to appreciate the institutes on multiple levels.  They provided me with a way of evaluating my academic and educational goals.  During those five weeks, I came up with many interesting thoughts about what makes a good teacher and what the purpose of a science education is. I, personally, benefitted from attending all three summer institutes.  In fact, I am quite curious about the institute not offered this summer, Science and a Sense of Place.