LANL Foundation Offers Opportunities for Inquiry Science Teachers
The Española based Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation’s Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC) program offered its annual Summer Teachers’ Institute on July 27–30 at El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe. Teachers in grades K–6 from Dulce, Española, Mesa Vista, Peñasco, Pojoaque and Santa Fe school districts were in attendance to learn to teach the curriculum and science kit materials offered by the program in topics such as Levers and Pulleys; Balance and Motion; Sound; Mixtures and Solutions; Balls and Ramps; Solids and Liquids; Magnetism and Electricity; Solar Energy; Rocks and Minerals; Sun, Moon, and Stars; Weather; Land and Water; Soils and Pebbles, Sand and Silt.
In the 2015–2016 school year, the program will serve over 11,000 students, 443 teachers, and 37 schools in northern New Mexico.
The ISEC initiative is a research-based STEM education program model dependent upon curriculum, professional development, and materials management. Moving away from traditional science teaching methods that rely on textbooks, worksheets and demonstrations, ISEC uses a multidimensional, inquiry science approach where science and engineering practices are at the forefront.
“The approach teaches students how to think, not just what to think,” said ISEC Program Director Gwen Warniment, “through experimentation, research, reasoning, process and problem solving, combined with communication and relating to others.”
The transformation in teaching and learning strengthens not only science knowledge and skills but also critical thinking, social development and literacy. An outside evaluation of the program led by Edvance Research Inc. has shown that ISEC students outperform their peers not involved in the program. After four years of implementation, ISEC students have made statistically significant improvements in grades 4–6 in every subject measured by the New Mexico Standards-Based Assessment—math, science, reading, and writing. Even higher improvements are seen for children who are identified in the “achievement gap”—ELL, Hispanic, low socioeconomic status, and Special Education designations.
In addition to the summer institute, teachers are offered continued support throughout the year with follow-up coaching, modeling and further professional development in topics of advanced content and pedagogy such as formative assessment, notebooking, argumentation and visual literacy.
LANL Foundation staff delivers and picks up kits from each school and refurbishes the materials after each 12-week cycle. The Science Resource Center in Chimayó houses an inventory of hundreds of materials, and handles all ordering and scheduling. The program is offered free for participating schools.
For additional program information, visit www.lanlfoundation.org or contact Gwen Warniment at (505) 753-8890 or (505) 351-1112.