SMART (Students Modeling A Research Topic) Teams: Project-Based Professional Development

  • Abstract

    The goal of this project is to disseminate a highly successful professional development program that provides high school teachers with updated knowledge and unique tools to help their students understand biology at the level of biomolecular structure and function. This program links teachers and students with the real world of science. This project consists of two components. First we will disseminate nationally a professional development program for high school science teachers “Genes Schemes Molecular Machines” that has been developed tested and refined during a phase I SEPA grant. The program involves an approach to teaching biomolecular structure and function that integrates computer and physical modeling. We will work with three sites; San Diego Salt Lake City and upstate New York . These sites were chosen because of the existence of strong extant professional development programs the enthusiasm of the program staffs to engage their teachers in this approach and the identification of cadres of teachers motivated to participate. Second we will continue to further develop a student enrichment program in which teachers who have participated in our professional development program form SMART Teams (Students Modeling A Research Topic) that design and build a physical model of a protein or other molecular structure that is being investigated in a local biomedical research laboratory. This approach bridges the gap that currently exists between the classroom and the world of an active research laboratory. In this project component we will work with teachers and SMART Teams drawn from the greater Milwaukee area and the state of Wisconsin . An important new component of our local effort will be the exploration of a collaboration with the Digital Literacy Team of the Discovery World Museum to more effectively communicate the accomplishments of the SMART Teams to a wider audience of educators parents and the general public.