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Professional Development for Graduate Students Through Outreach Partnerships with Science Learning Centers
Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (2011)
  • Karen Viskupic, Boise State University
  • Jennie Rylee
  • Cindy Busche
  • Sara Focht
  • David Cannamela
  • Annelise Carleton-Hug
  • James Belthoff, Boise State University
  • David E. Wilkins, Boise State University
With funding from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education program (GK-12), students from Boise State University’s graduate programs in biology and geosciences gain experience in curriculum development and delivery in a wide range of settings. The project uniquely partners graduate students with educators at three informal science centers that use their settings to focus on science and environmental issues of local, regional, and global importance. Two-three graduate students per year (GK-12 Fellows) are placed at each learning center where they work to create, modify, and deliver learning activities that incorporate local and regional themes as well as their own research expertise. Graduate students report that the GK-12 fellowship improves their communication skills, improves their comfort when giving scientific talks, expands their scientific experience, helps them see connections between their research and society, and instills in them the value of community outreach. The success of this program is based on several factors. First, we partnered with learning centers whose educational foci overlap with the research interests of our graduate students. Second, the partner educators are enthusiastic about the program and see benefits to their centers through expanded programming and energetic new staff. Third, we select Fellows with the strongest academic credentials who are excited to work with the K-12 community, and whose scientific expertise can benefit the learning centers’ education programs. Advantages of this unique GK-12 partnership include the wide range of teaching experiences available to the Fellows. Graduate students teach lessons to a range of audiences, including elementary (largest audience), middle, and high school students, as well as the general community. The lessons are also taught in a variety of settings including classrooms, natural environments, and modified/staged outdoor settings. The result is graduate students who are comfortable explaining science to a broad spectrum of non-scientific audiences. Another advantage of this model is the large number of people the graduate students reach. During the 2010-2011 academic year, eight Fellows interacted with over 20,000 K-12 students, 1000 K-12 teachers and 3,000 community members.
Publication Date
October, 2011
Citation Information
Karen Viskupic, Jennie Rylee, Cindy Busche, Sara Focht, et al.. "Professional Development for Graduate Students Through Outreach Partnerships with Science Learning Centers" Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (2011)
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