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Cutting edge earth science takes STEP into the classroom

Submitted by Amy Hartley
Phone: 907-474-5823


Photo caption below.
Photo by Cara Brunk, Geophysical Institute, UAF
Delta Elementary School teacher Shannon Morely takes a core sample from a tree during the Science Teacher Education ProgramĀ¹s Summer Institute. The two-week institute engages thirty K-12 Alaska teachers with scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks for in-depth Earth science exploration.
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Photo caption below.
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Team teachers with scientific experts and you'll get a recipe that will fuel future scientists.

With the Science Teacher Education Program, Alaska teachers receive intensive training in the earth sciences, as well as lesson development ideas during two STEP Summer Institutes hosted by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Each STEP Summer Institute runs for two weeks. The first institute began July 7 and runs until July 18. The second institute follows immediately, and is slated from July 21-Aug. 1. Each institute will bring a total of 30 teachers from across the state to campus. Teachers will earn up to nine professional education and/or science development credits for participating in the program funded by a $2.2 million grant from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Eleven UAF scientists are involved in the 2008 STEP Summer Institutes where teachers will cover the basics on Alaska fossils, volcanoes, earthquakes, soil physics, and more. In addition to their work on campus, teachers will conduct their own fieldwork that will take them to a permafrost tunnel near Fairbanks and Denali National Park for fossil hunting.

In addition to the team of scientists, Alaska Science Consortium instructors also will work with participating teachers to translate complicated science information into exciting K-12 classroom lessons. All lessons developed during STEP align instruction and assessment with Alaska Science Grade Level Expectations. After field-testing, all lessons will be posted to the STEP Web site and made available to any teacher with Internet access.

The STEP Summer Institutes are popular and there was a waitlist to join the 2008 program. Through STEP, teachers can earn credits and improve their science instruction at no cost to them. Selected teachers receive airfare from their home community to Fairbanks, two-weeks worth of lodging and per diem, as well as their tuition, all paid by the program.

The Information and Education Outreach Office at the Geophysical Institute coordinates the STEP Summer Institutes. This is the third and final year the summer programs will be offered. Previous STEP Summer Institutes focused on space physics and climate change themes.

CONTACT: Kathy Bertram, Geophysical Institute information/education outreach director at 907-474-7798 or kbertram@gi.alaska.edu. Glenda Findlay, STEP program manager, at 907-474-2722 or glenda.findlay@gi.alaska.edu. Kat Bernhardt, Geophysical Institute information office at 907-474-7853, or kbernhardt@gi.alaska.edu

ON THE WEB: www.gi.alaska.edu/STEP/

NOTE TO EDITORS: Additional photos and a detailed schedule are available upon request.