Science Club Summer Camp: Training Teachers and Youth in Authentic STEM Practice

Project: Research project

Project Details


The objective of this proposal is to design, implement, and evaluate a novel, practicum-based teacher professional development program for elementary school teachers, aligned to the recently released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It seeks to address well-described gaps in the scientific training of elementary teachers that threaten the effective implementation of NGSS and interrupt development of early youth science skills. Given the lack of quality science instruction in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) elementary classrooms, we offer that the best way to prepare a future STEM and biomedical workforce is to help improve NGSS-aligned instruction at the K-5 level. Science Club Summer Camp (SC2) uses an integrated approach to train CPS teachers and youth in the nature of science. An interdisciplinary team of scientists, master science teachers, NGSS experts, and youth development staff will collaborate to incorporate the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Crosscutting Concepts, and science and engineering practices into both out-of-school time learning at a summer camp and academic year instruction. Program participants will also learn about NGSS connections to health and biomedicine through interactions with practicing scientists, visits to research labs, and inquiry into health phenomena. The proposed program draws on best practices for teacher professional development and youth mentoring to provide both summer and academic year support for third grade teachers and youth in CPS. Specifically, we aim to: 1) Design and implement an intensive elementary teacher professional development program, incorporating both summer and academic year support, 2) establish a summer science camp program, called SC2 Kids, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, and 3) evaluate and disseminate best practices for implementation of NGSS in third grade classrooms Over the course of the program, we will train 64 teachers and more than 2000 youth in authentic science and health practices. A multi-faceted evaluation plan will assess the impact of our program on teacher beliefs, knowledge, and understanding of the NGSS, and the degree to which their training results in changes to their instructional practice. Additionally, we will help teachers design critical NGSS-aligned assessment tools as measures of student learning. These instruments will provide early evidence on the connections between NGSS-aligned instruction and deeper student learning. In addition to addressing the acute need for NGSS-aligned teacher professional development strategies, and high quality summer learning opportunities for disadvantages youth, it is our expectation that this “dual use” approach will serve as a model for future teacher professional development programs that seek to bridge learning in formal and informal environments and strengthen academic-community partnerships.
Effective start/end date6/1/153/31/17


  • Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (1R25OD020222-01)


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