BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY


RIPE project picked for more grant funding

An elementary science education project will continue at BGSU with a second infusion of grant funding.

Research-based Inquiry Physics Experiences (RIPE) II is among 24 science and mathematics education projects statewide receiving funding through the federal Improving Teaching Quality Program. The Ohio Board of Regents has released more than $3.2 million for the projects, including $136,679 for RIPE II.

The project will continue work started last year, when RIPE received $133,549 for professional development with teachers of preschool through third grade. About 40 teachers from 14 school districts in five northwest Ohio counties came to campus last June for an institute where they learned different classroom approaches to physics and how best to address state standards. The project also offered materials for the teachers to take back to their schools, opportunity for graduate credit and follow-up during the school year.

Project director Dr. Tracy Huziak-Clark, School of Teaching and Learning, said that she and her collaborator, Dr. Stephen Van Hook, formerly of Bowling Green and now at Penn State University, have researched the youngest students’ understanding of scientific concepts, based on hands-on learning, conceptual hooks such as songs and phrases, and movements and physical activities.

In RIPE II, they are sharing information about content as well as what they’ve learned about teaching. Physics content in Ohio’s state standards for early childhood education focuses on sound and light, forces and motion, magnetism, astronomy and energy, Huziak-Clark noted.

The teachers at last summer’s institute learned not only physical science content, but also how to teach it in an age-appropriate manner. They have since taught similar lessons in their classrooms, and six of them will co-teach and share their experiences with the RIPE II group.

“The response from the teachers and their students was so positive we just had to do this again,” said Huziak-Clark. “One participant said, ‘I can’t believe how much I learned and how interesting physical science can be to learn and teach!’

“One of the most important findings from RIPE I,” the director added, “was the enthusiasm and interest of the K-3 students for learning more about the way things worked in their physical world.”

Participants in this summer’s institute will again receive a $600 kit of materials—including magnets, ramps and springs—to take back to their classrooms. All of the teachers must then develop and implement a weeklong unit based on what they learn. That will be among the topics of discussion at three follow-up meetings in the fall.

The project is part of BGSU’s ongoing efforts to improve education in the so-called STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math.

March 3, 2008