The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, a science curriculum development organization, has long been engaged in the preservice education of science teachers and also offers professional development for inservice teachers. The group employs a variety of long-term strategies, such as engaging teachers in curriculum development and adaptation, action research, and providing on-site support by lead teachers (Linn, 1997; Lederman, 2004). Research on the efficacy of strategies used for professional development related specifically to laboratory experiences, however, is not readily available.
Professional Development Partnerships with the Scientific Community. Scientific laboratories, college and university science departments, and science museums have launched efforts to support high school science teachers in improving laboratory teaching. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched its Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development Program in 2004. Building on existing teacher internship programs at several of the national laboratories, the program will engage teachers as summer research associates at the laboratories, beginning with a four-week stint the first summer, followed by shorter two-week internships the following two summers (U.S. Department of Energy, 2004). Qualified high school teachers will have opportunities to work and learn at the Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has provided professional development programs for science teachers for several years (Javonovic and King, 1998).
With the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), several medical colleges and research institutions provide laboratory-based science experiences for science teachers and their students. For example, HHMI has funded summer teacher training workshops at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for many years, and also supports an ongoing partnership between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle, Washington, public schools (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2003). In the Seattle program, teachers attend a 13-day summer workshop in which they work closely with each other, master teachers, and program staff to develop expertise in molecular biology. They also spend a week doing laboratory research with a scientist mentor at the Fred Hutchinson Center or one of several other participating public and private research institutions in Seattle. During the school year, teachers may access kits of materials supporting laboratory experiences that use biomedical research tools.
Summer research experiences that may enhance science teachers’ laboratory teaching need not take place in a laboratory facility. At Vanderbilt University, Catley conducts a summer-long course on research in organismal biology. Teachers design and carry out an open-ended field research project