Curriculum Column

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The Los Alamos National Laboratory has allocated $100,000 for a project designed to let elementary- and middle-school students perform as young scientists in assessing real-world environmental or energy problems.

The program, called "swoope," for Students Watching Over Our Planet Earth, is to begin this summer as a pilot in New Mexico, laboratory officials said.

Participating students will use "discovery kits" equipped with reliable measuring devices to gather data of significance to the environment, such as pollution levels in water or radon levels in homes. The information then will become part of a database at the Los Alamos facility that will be made available nationally.

The project is designed to counter negative images of science, officials said, by making students more concerned about the environment and by having them "do" science, rather than only read about it.

The Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois has issued A Guide to Selecting Basal Reading Programs.

The guide consists of a series of booklets designed to incorporate into the textbook-evaluation process findings from research on teaching and learning. It aims at helping textbook-adoption committees gather information and develop evaluation criteria, and at making the evaluation process more objective.

Included in the guide is a booklet of suggested ways teachers can motivate students to do more reading, arrange class time for independent reading, set up classroom libraries, and establish schoolwide reading programs.

The guides are most effective, officials said, when used by adoption committees that take a "division-of-labor approach" to evaluation.

More information is available from the Center for the Study of Reading at (217) 244-4083.

In an effort to enhance students' language-arts skills and increase their awareness of the role of women in U.S. history, the National Women's History Project has created curriculum materials for grades 8-12.

"Courageous Voices" includes brief biographies of 104 women who have used language skillfully, from Emily Dickinson and the abolitionist Sojourner Truth, to the singer and songwriter Dolly Parton and Samantha Smith, the school girl who gained fame in the early 1980's after writing to the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov.

It also suggests classroom activities, such as simulated talk shows, writing feature articles, and performing "raps," that allow students to use their own language skills.

The materials are available for $7.95, plus $2 for shipping, from the National Women's History Project, 7738 Bell Rd., Windsor, Calif. 95402.--p.s.

Vol. 09, Issue 30

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