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Children explore an exhibit at Liberty Science Center.
EB: Our goal is to provide science educators with the broadest possible array of teaching tools and to develop the diagnostic skills that will enable them to adapt their teaching to the needs of the specific groups with whom they work. We liken their repertoire of skills to a doctor’s bag. The more instruments and remedies in that bag, the broader the range of patients and ailments the doctor can address. Although teaching remains largely an art form, within the past quarter-century much evidence-based theory has emerged on how students learn and which teaching methods are effective in bringing about that learning. Our job in Teacher Programs is to present this information in an objective manner so that teachers are the decision makers about what best suits the needs of their students at a given time. All members of the department are themselves experienced, certified teachers, and this experience allows us to establish immediate credibility with participants in our programs.
EB: Science centers have the opportunity to bring teachers closer to “doing science” than is typically possible in a school setting where, by necessity, the work is “about science.” The best example of this approach is illustrated by our summer institutes for science teachers, which bring participants in direct contact with scientists working in universities or other research facilities.
The majority of our programs during the school year are attended by elementary school teachers, many of whom have limited backgrounds in science or are often apprehensive about approaching the subject. Our “Teacher Impact” workshops have been designed around inexpensive, readily available materials that do not lock teachers into purchasing and using the often expensive packaged kit programs that are on the market.
Joseph Priestley statue
©2010 Chemical Heritage Foundation