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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. David Smith, Director of Professional Development
The Discovery Center, 610-865-5010 or
Michael Traupman, Director of College Relations
Cedar Crest College, 610-740-3790


More Local Districts to be Served by 2nd Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institute in Partnership With The Discovery Center of Science and Technology and Cedar Crest College

(Bethlehem, PA) March 17, 2004 - Today The Discovery Center of Science and Technology announced plans to offer a second Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institute for K-5 teachers from Lehigh and Northampton counties (Bethlehem Area School District, Easton Area School District, Nazareth Area School District, Whitehall-Coplay School District, Wilson Area School District and others have made preliminary commitments to participate). Funding will be provided through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. Allentown School District announced plans for the first Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institute earlier this year. Title II Part B Math and Science Partnership funds from the PA Department of Education will support the ASD Institute. The Da Vinci Institutes demonstrate the collaborative efforts underway to advance science education in area schools. Leadership for the Da Vinci Institutes will be provided by local school districts, the Discovery Center, and Cedar Crest College.

The Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institutes are designed to produce teams of elementary teachers grounded in inquiry-based approaches to science teaching and ready to lead school districts in advancing their science curricula and instruction for the benefit of elementary students. "Teacher leaders will work through hands-on inquiries themselves as they enrich their content knowledge, then build their own toolkits to enable them to assist their peers in effectively implementing lessons related to that same content in their own schools," says Dr. David Smith, The Discovery Center's Director of Professional Development, "Institute teachers will participate in professional development activities throughout the school year in order to provide ongoing support for their learning, planning, and implementation efforts." In addition to support for professional development, the funding allows the students of each teacher leader and two of his/her peers to experience specially-developed Inquiry Expeditions to the Discovery Center and to experience science activities in their own classrooms, led by scientists as part of a Scientists-in-Schools program.


Regional Partnership Leading to Creation of Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institutes

The project was initially planned as part of an ongoing partnership among The Discovery Center, 14 districts and several higher education institutions. The Discovery Center of Bethlehem was the local organization instrumental in securing funding for both institutes and will provide overall coordination for the three-year program. Cedar Crest College will be the lead higher education partner, providing science expertise and offering graduate credit for program participants. Other partners include Lehigh University and the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership.

For two weeks each summer, local K-5 teachers will engage in intensive professional development. They will participate in scientific investigations and use that experience to transform science learning in their own classrooms. They will explore 1) strategies for engaging all students, including full-inclusion of both special education as well as gifted students, in the practice of science; 2) strategies for assessing the understanding of students at all stages of their learning; and 3) opportunities to integrate the study of science with the study of other disciplines. At the end of each summer session, all participants will have formulated an action plan and timeline for implementing curricular and pedagogical change when they start the school year. The Institute will also include two two-day retreats on weekends during the school year to revisit topics from the summer, discuss the progress of participants on their action plans, and engage in collaborative problem solving around issues that have arisen with the action plans. During the school year, Institute teachers will also work with their grade-level colleagues on a specific curricular unit tied to the annual theme of the Institute and will plan and implement a Scientist-in-School Visit and Student Inquiry Expedition in collaboration with The Discovery Center to support that unit for their grade level. Finally, Institute staff will provide up to eight hours of one-on-one mentoring and consultation for all participants each school year.

The development of the Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institutes will be managed by a team consisting of Dr. David Smith, director of Professional Development at The Discovery Center (DC); and Brian Exton, director of Science Education Initiatives at Cedar Crest College (CCC). Professional development will be planned and delivered by teams to include Ph.D. scientists (CCC, DC and Lehigh University), professional developers, exemplary elementary teachers, and industry scientists to be identified by the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership. The Discovery Center will supervise the evaluation of the project and design, deliver programs for students enrolled in classes of participating teachers, and coordinate the delivery of Scientist-in-School Visits and Student Inquiry Expeditions.

Alignment to PA Academic Standards

"The Da Vinci Institutes and student programs will be directly aligned with school district and state science, math, and literacy standards and be integrated and supportive of the learning objectives of the school's curricula," says Lin Erickson, executive director and CEO of The Discovery Center. "This partnership is part of the ongoing work of The Discovery Center to create a regional center of excellence for science education comprising not only our center, but surrounding districts, local universities, and businesses."


About The Discovery Center of Science and Technology

The Discovery Center of Science and Technology is an independent 501 c (3) non-profit corporation dedicated to advancing science education in schools throughout northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey. By pooling resources of area corporations and colleges and universities, The Discovery Center offers a variety of hands-on educational resources that no single district can afford alone. Programs at the Center and in area schools promote hands-on, inquiry-based learning while helping students meet new state science standards. Discovery Center science education professionals train teachers and conduct laboratory programs in area schools-bringing specialized expertise and equipment into classrooms. Complementing its school programs, the Center offers a variety of hands-on learning experiences for youth and families outside school hours. Over 100 interactive exhibits demonstrate real world applications of science and technology.
Currently housed in Bethlehem Steel's former South Bethlehem offices, The Discovery Center will move to a new facility on the Cedar Crest College campus in Allentown in summer 2005. The new facility will be called the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology. The Discovery Center currently serves 40-45,000 school youth and their families annually.

511 East Third Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone/Fax: 610-865-5010
www.discovery-center.org

About Cedar Crest College

Since its founding in 1867, Cedar Crest College has been on the cutting edge of educational advances, preparing women to successfully undertake leadership roles -- particularly those in math, science and technology. Cedar Crest was the first women's college in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree in genetic engineering, and one of the first in the country to offer a degree in neuroscience. Currently more than 60 percent of the College's students are enrolled in health and science fields -- including genetic engineering, forensic science, neuroscience, chemistry, environmental science, biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, nursing and nutrition.

Cedar Crest College is known for its active undergraduate research program -- a national pilot program among liberal arts institutions where students begin advanced research beginning in the freshman year -- and the College's graduates in genetic engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, neuroscience, pre-med, pre-dentistry and pre-veterinary have traditionally achieved 100 placement success in graduate and professional school. The College's success in science and technology has been recognized through the receipt of grants from several prestigious foundations and government agencies. The College received support from FIPSIE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) to increase educational opportunities in science and technology for women and the W.M. Keck Foundation, one of the largest, most influential philanthropic organizations in the U.S., to establish a state-of-the art computational biology center on campus.

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Abigail Fota
College Relations Associate - Media
610-740-3790
afota@cedarcrest.edu


 


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