2010 Annual Science Report

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

EPO Activity: Astrobiology Teachers Academy

Project Progress

The New York Center for Astrobiology hosted its second annual Astrobiology Teachers Academy (ATA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on July 12-15, 2010. The goal of the ATA is to inspire and assist high school science teachers to infuse Astrobiology themes and content into existing curricula. The 4-day Academy involved 13 high school science teachers from throughout New York State (an increase from 9 teachers in 2009). These teachers had been competitively selected following an application process modeled after SETI’s highly successful ASSET program (Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers). All of the NAI faculty investigators from RPI and UAlbany contributed to this Academy during its entire 4-day program through formal presentations and discussions with teachers. Educational consultants from the Association for the Cooperative Advancement of Science and Education (ACASE) were integrally involved in the review of the applications, content of the ATA program, and in its assessment. Using assessment information collected during the 2009 ATA, strategic changes were made in the 2010 ATA that resulted in a stronger program that has led to sustained contact with the teachers for guiding and following their progress in bringing Astrobiology learning-modules to their classes. In addition, teachers are developing learning modules for presentation at the annual conference of the Science Teachers Association of New York State (STANYS) in November 2010. The results of that upcoming event will be reported in next year’s NAI annual report, as well as the recruiting of teacher-leaders for the next ATA in July 2011.
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To support new strategies for sustainability of the ATA, we requested and were awarded an augmentation grant from NAI totaling $47,635. This grant is being used to engage the 2010 cohort of teachers in on-going activities throughout the 2010/11 school year, including the 2010 STANYS meeting and consultation meetings with our ACASE partners. We particularly wish to acknowledge the advice and encouragement of Daniella Scalice (NAI EPO Coordinator) in the development of this proposal.