For six Oklahoma science teachers, this summer has provided the chance to put on different shoes: those of students.
The educators, all middle and high-school teachers, were selected from a statewide applicant pool as Foundation Scholars at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. In the four-week program, the teachers work together in an OMRF laboratory, performing experiments and learning laboratory techniques they can take back to their classrooms.
During the course, the teachers design and perform a series of experiments and computer exercises working from intact cells to molecules. Beyond learning new experiments, they gain experience designing an integrated series of projects centered around an initial observation or idea of their own for use in their classrooms.
“Already, I feel more confident about teaching higher level content in my classes,” said Meredith Wronowski, a teacher at Capitol Hill High School. “The labs we have learned here are simple and inexpensive to set up and will be easy for students to do. But they drive home sophisticated science concepts and process skills. Students will learn to be critical thinkers, and that will help them in all their school subjects.”
“I teach sixth graders, but the basic lab skills I’ve learned here can be passed on to them and will help them in the future,” Mayfield Middle School teacher Vanessa Berry said. “Students always enjoy hands-on experiences, and it’s a fun way to learn. I’m looking forward to returning to my classroom with new ideas.”
In addition to the experience, the teachers receive a $2,000 stipend and up to $1,000 in classroom supplies or equipment.
“This program has also opened my eyes to what’s available in my own backyard right here in Oklahoma City,” said Westmoore High School teacher Jeffrey Baughman. “Learning about the advancements made by researchers at OMRF and being able to share my experiences with my students may spark some of them to consider a career in research. That path doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.”
Joanne Peterson, who teaches at Putnam City High School, plans to use the information she has collected as an exercise in data analysis for her students. “Everything I’ve learned here is student-friendly, easily implemented in the classroom, and our experiments have inspired me to use real data to help my students learn to think critically.”
“Everything we are learning here parallels the objectives that the State Department of Education requires teachers to cover in their classrooms,” said Medford’s Julie Angle. “I’ve been able to grow as an individual while strengthening my professional skills, as well, and that will help me provide students with the best science education possible.”
For Deer Creek High School’s Jennifer Bush, the experience has given her new ideas, which will help enhance her lesson plans. “If I can get them talking about science, it makes a difference. I’m already making plans to use what I’ve learned at OMRF in my classes this fall.”
The 2008 OMRF Foundation Scholars are:
Julie Angle, Medford, Medford High School
Jeffrey Baughman II, Oklahoma City, Westmoore High School
Vanessa Berry, Norman, Mayfield Middle School (Putnam City)
Jennifer Bush, Edmond, Deer Creek High School
Joanne Peterson, Moore, Putnam City High School
Meredith Wronowski, Yukon, Capitol Hill High School
For more information about the program, visit: http://omrf.org/OMRF/Education/FoundationScholars.asp
OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.