Science Academy's Initiative Links Teachers, Scientists

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Peter West

The president of the National Academy of Sciences has launched an initiative to bring teachers and scientists together to improve science education at the local level.

Under the Regional Initiatives in Science Education, scientists will join teachers both in pushing for science-education reform within school districts, and in working directly to improve science instruction in the classroom.

The program is sponsored by Bruce Alberts, a nationally known biochemist and advocate of precollegiate science-education reform who assumed the presidency of the academy this summer.

Mr. Alberts announced here last week at a briefing on the academy's science-education outreach programs that RISE collaboratives already have been established in Washington and in Los Angeles. A third is slated to begin soon in Minneapolis.

As envisioned by Mr. Alberts, scientists and other technical professionals will collaborate with groups of exemplary elementary school teachers to chart a course for reform that is both consistent with national education goals and sensitive to local needs and capabilities.

Mr. Alberts added that RISE should dovetail with other federal reform efforts, particularly the National Science Foundation's recently launched "urban systemic initiative,'' which targets the 26 cities with the poorest student populations. (See Education Week, Oct. 27, 1993.)

Although the program is in its very early stages, Mr. Alberts said it will draw on his experience as the leader of an initiative to improve elementary science education in the San Francisco public schools.

Collaborative efforts undertaken by scientists and teachers during Mr. Alberts's tenure at the University of California at San Francisco encouraged the district to abandon a traditional textbook-based science program for a kit-based, "hands on'' approach. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

Vol. 13, Issue 12

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