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Suggested Citation:"1 Overview." National Research Council. 2009. Strengthening High School Chemistry Education Through Teacher Outreach Programs: A Workshop Summary to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12533.
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"1 Overview." National Research Council. 2009. Strengthening High School Chemistry Education Through Teacher Outreach Programs: A Workshop Summary to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12533.
Page 2

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1 Overview This day-and-a-half workshop began with an introduction recognize the need for improved science and mathematics by the workshop organizers Mark Cardillo, Dreyfus Foun- education but tend to be satisfied with the amount of science dation; William (Bill) Carroll, Occidental Chemical Corpo- and mathematics their own children study in school. The ration; and Alex Harris, Brookhaven National Laboratory. National Science Board has identified better coordination They emphasized the challenge of addressing such a broad and more effective teaching as the greatest needs of the U.S. and sweeping topic as high school chemistry education. This educational system. led them to focus on in-service teacher outreach programs for Session 1 continued with a presentation by Robert high school education, because high school is where chemis- Tai, University of Virginia, on the current state of high try becomes a discrete discipline and outreach programs are a school chemistry education. Gerry Wheeler, National potential conduit by which the greater chemical community Science Teachers Association, and Roxie Allen, Associated can make a contribution. Particular emphasis was placed on Chemistry Teachers of Texas, provided the national and evaluations of the effectiveness of these programs. state-level teachers’ perspective, respectively. The session Finally, Harris outlined the workshop organization. Day concluded with a local teacher panel composed of Caryn 1 consisted of two sessions and a poster session, and day 2 Galatis, Thomas A. Edison High School, Virginia; Brian J. included a third session. Session 1 addressed the question Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and What are the major and general issues in high school chem- Technology, Virginia; and Kiara Hargrove, Baltimore Poly- istry education? It included remarks on the current state of technic Institute, Maryland. Tai’s presentation of longitudinal science and the importance of teachers. Sessions 2 and 3 data demonstrated that exposure to particular subjects in high addressed the question Who is doing what with respect to school chemistry, frequent peer interactions, and studying high school chemistry education (and how is effectiveness high-level mathematics are positively associated with chem- measured)? Session 2 focused on publicly funded govern- istry grades in college, while time spent on community and ment agency and university programs. Session 3 addressed student projects, labs, and instructional technologies can be privately funded for-profit and nonprofit programs. negatively associated with college chemistry grades. He also Session 1 began with an overview of the state of science showed that most high school chemistry teachers have taken and science education in the United States, provided by college courses above the level they are assigned to teach, Kathryn Sullivan, Battelle Center for Mathematics and but they report needing help in using technology in science Science Education Policy. Sullivan presented the current instruction, teaching classes with special needs students, and position of the United States in research and development using inquiry-oriented teaching methods. Speakers indicated and in scientific and mathematics education. She showed that laboratories in high school chemistry tend to be discon- that research and development (R&D) have become more nected from coursework, focus on procedures rather than internationally distributed even as R&D in the United States clear learning outcomes, and provide few opportunities for has grown substantially in scale and scope. The need for discussion or reflection. Across the country, new require- more professional development opportunities for teachers ments that high school students take more advanced science was discussed. She also talked about the role of student courses have increased the need for well-prepared chemistry and parent attitudes in education. For example, parents teachers. Teachers feel that a major challenge for high school 

 STRENGTHENING HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY EDUCATION chemistry teachers is connecting the subject to everyday ment. A common theme was to have teachers that complete experiences, and professional development that focuses on these programs impart what they have learned to their peers, this linkage can be especially valuable. multiplying the number of people reached. A poster session, The first half of Session 2 focused on publicly funded which contained a sampling of teacher outreach programs, programs at government agencies. The presenters were followed these discussions. L. Anthony Beck, National Institutes of Health (NIH); One the second day, Session 3 focused on privately funded Katherine Covert and Joan Prival, National Science Foun- outreach programs. Speakers were Bridget McCourt, Bayer dation (NSF); Jeffery Dilks, Department of Energy (DOE); Corporation; Reeny Davison, ASSET program; Bryce and Kenneth White, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Hach, Hach Scientific Foundation; Patricia Soochan, These representatives presented programs in their respective Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Sandra Laursen, institutions, and several common themes emerged. The pro- University of Colorado-Boulder. These programs have a grams frequently focus on inquiry-based training, hands-on broad range, with some focusing on elementary and middle experiences, or laboratory research to strengthen teachers’ school education and others on high school education. They content knowledge and familiarity with performing research. seek to generate future research chemists, chemistry teach- DOE uses its national laboratories as a resource both for ers, and a scientifically literate public through a variety of teachers and students in these efforts. A common theme from methods, including volunteerism, workshops, educational these discussions was that assessing the effectiveness of edu- materials, and scholarships. Some programs perform very cational activities remains challenging, although programs little evaluation, while some place a great emphasis on it. can make progress by relying on standardized instruments The workshop ended with a panel to consider what actions and by teaming with evaluation experts. could be useful in the future. These suggested actions were The second half of Session 2 presented publicly funded the opinions of individual panel members and do not repre- outreach programs considered representative of exemplary sent consensus recommendations. The panel was moderated programs. The presenters were Irwin Talesnick, Queens by Bill Carroll and included Joan Prival, Mary Kirchhoff, University; Constance Blasie and Michael Klein, Univer- Penny J. Gilmer, Gerry Wheeler, and Hai-Lung Dai. The sity of Pennsylvania; Sergey Nizkorodov, University of panel discussed possible improvements in coordination, California-Irvine; and Gil Pacey of Miami University, Ohio. program evaluation, and a focus on the early stages of edu- Outreach methods included the ChemEd conferences, sum- cation as a part of a comprehensive effort to improve U.S. mer workshops, and masters’ programs for teachers—all with science education. varying levels of evaluation. Some programs and workshops offered course credit as a method to increase teacher involve-

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A strong chemical workforce in the United States will be essential to the ability to address many issues of societal concern in the future, including demand for renewable energy, more advanced materials, and more sophisticated pharmaceuticals. High school chemistry teachers have a critical role to play in engaging and supporting the chemical workforce of the future, but they must be sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to produce the levels of scientific literacy that students need to succeed.

To identify key leverage points for improving high school chemistry education, the National Academies' Chemical Sciences Roundtable held a public workshop, summarized in this volume, that brought together representatives from government, industry, academia, scientific societies, and foundations involved in outreach programs for high school chemistry teachers. Presentations at the workshop, which was held in August 2008, addressed the current status of high school chemistry education; provided examples of public and private outreach programs for high school chemistry teachers; and explored ways to evaluate the success of these outreach programs.

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