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State Offers Grant for Technology-Based Courses

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The California Department of Education is soliciting proposals for an unusual "technology based" curriculum package for middle-school science courses.

The department is offering a $1-million grant to the group that comes up with the best plan for incorporating such technological aids as computers, video-cassette recorders, and video-disk players into the teaching of science to 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students.

The group selected would be expected to devote at least $500,000 of its own funds to the project. The curriculum would have to be developed within three years of the awarding of the grant.

"It is expected that the organizations joining in this effort will contribute a major portion of the investment capital and, in return, will receive guidance from the4state department," states the request for proposals for "Science 2000: Technology Resources Management Project."

According to Marleen Tucker, a consultant in the office of educational technology, the department "initially thought it would have all the materials to develop [the program] in-house."

Further research indicated, however, that it would have cost up to $10 million to obtain copyright agreements and other requirements.

"It was beyond our means," she said.

So the department is urging private businesses, public broadcasters, local education agencies, colleges and universities, and other parties to put forward proposals that "clearly demonstrate the integration of a non-text-based delivery system."

The request for proposals also stipulates that, "Instructional materials must go beyond drill and practice" to "allow students to explore scientific concepts in depth."

The document calls for a program that encourages students to "perform experiments not normally performed in the classroom, experience new environments, and see visuals that illustrate the invisible."

State officials plan to test the curriculum in a number of California schools before making it available to teachers.

The deadline for submission of proposals is April 13.

Information about the project is available from the Office of Educational Technology, State Department of Education, P.O. Box 944272, Sacramento, Calif. 94244-2720.--pw

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