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Two new video-instruction series from the Agency for Instructional Television are finished and ready to begin next September in the agency's Skills Essential to Learning Project (sel). Supported by a consortium of state and Canadian provincial education agencies, the project was begun in the mid-1970's with the aim of producing an extended series of programs that could be widely used by the participants' local school districts.

The new series, each involving 12 15-minute programs, focus on science and language-arts skills for 7th and 8th graders. "WhatAbout," the science series, uses segments involving young people and professional scientists to demonstrate the processes of hypothesizing, observing, inferring, and experimenting, according to the ait "In Other Words," the language-arts series, uses similar juxtapositions of youths and adult professionals to show student viewers how to think about what makes a written or spoken message effective.

The two series will be aired next fall by 120 noncommercial television stations and will also be available to consortium members in broadcast-tape and video-cassette formats. Earlier series--the initial 60-part "ThinkAbout" series designed to introduce 5th and 6th graders to reasoning and problem-solving skills, and last year's "It Figures," a 28-part mathematics sequence for 4th graders--are also available to consortium members in those formats.


"Second Grade Live" is what the information office of Iowa State University calls the experimental television hookup that links a classroom two miles from the campus with two rooms in the College of Education. On certain days, prospective elementary-education teachers watch everything that goes on in the second-grade class on their two video monitors, one of which has a 50-inch screen. The students can control the action of the camera installed in an upper corner of the classroom to zoom in on a child or to take in the entire class. The monitoring, which was agreed to by the teacher, is designed not to evaluate her methods but to allow prospective teachers to see how "real-life" teaching situations unfold in the classroom, says Mary Hoy, an instructor in elementary education. "They get to see how the teacher and students react without being influenced by a guest in their classroom," she says.

To make the broadcasts possible, the college of education had to obtain a temporary license from the Federal Communications Commission. Technical expertise was provided by WOI-tv, a commercial station owned by the university.


Discover, Time Inc.'s monthly newsmagazine in the field of science, has established two substantial awards programs, each offering a top prize of $5,000, for able science teachers and students.

Awarded for the first time last month at the National Science Teachers Association meeting, the Discover Magazine Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year honor went to Gayle M. Ater, an 11th-grade physics and chemistry teacher at the Laboratory School of Louisiana State University's College of Education. The honor, according to magazine officials, recognizes exceptional achievement in incorporating current scientific research and materials into classroom teaching.

The first of the magazine's National Science Student Scholarships, which are awarded to a high-school senior for an original essay offering possible research avenues to focus on an unsolved scientific problem, was given to Jack Tsao of Penn Hills Senior High School in Pittsburgh. The 16-year-old youth, who is fluent in Chinese and German as well as English and is a National Merit Scholar, wrote his essay on physicists' search for a subatomic particle with a single magnetic pole.

Further information on the awards may be obtained from the National Science Teachers Association, 1742 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.


Asserting that the state of children's television is worse than it has been for years, an official of the National Education Association, testifying before the Federal Communications Commission recently, urged the creation of a temporary commission on children's programming.

Such a group, Karen Jaffee of the nea said, would bring educators, parents, and broadcasters together in "a nonadversarial setting free from fanfare and formal posturing" to develop private-sector incentives that would encourage the television industry to develop and air better programs for children. As an example of an incentive that has worked, Ms. Jaffee described the fcc's approval of a license transfer that stipulated that the new license holder must put $250,000 into a children's-programming account and support an advisory board on children's programming. She said the station has used the money to provide study guides for children's programs to area teachers and continues to offer ''worthwhile" children's programs in its schedule.

Ms. Jaffee also pointed out that a "vast storehouse" of programs for children, developed with federal support, already exists, but rarely "finds its way into classrooms or homes" because "there is no central system of dissemination and retrieval for these materials." She said the proposed advisory commission could promote the use of such programs, a recommendation also made in the fcc's 1979 report on children's television.--mm

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