The San Francisco Unified School District is involved in several major efforts to improve science education. One of those efforts, INQUIRES, is a five year systemic change project at the 6th to 9th grade level, funded by the National Science Foundation. The project offers an annual INQUIRES summer institute, which aims to expand the science content base of teachers and provide them with practice in utilizing instructional materials that are inquiry based and investigative in nature. This year the two week institute focused on concepts in physics and Earth science.

Enthusiasm abounded at INQUIRES.

A 7th grade teacher tries her hand at Adventures at Dry Creek, an interactive
online resource from UCMP.

ISTAT was pleased to have the opportunity to play an active role in the INQUIRES institute this summer. First, ISTAT participated in planning meetings with district staff and college faculty to develop the format and content for the institute. In addition, ISTAT members reviewed the American Geophysical Institute (AGI) materials that were adopted as a replacement unit to identify areas where web-based ISTAT materials can be used to supplement and enhance the lessons. They also suggested background resources for specific content areas.

Finally, ISTAT team member Jennifer Johnson from the UC Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) participated directly with the teachers in two training session. She introduced on-line and hands-on materials that can be used to enhance the AGI materials, and showed teachers how to access and use the lessons with students. (Note: Jennifer is returning to the classroom in September, teaching 6th and 7th grade science after two years as Teacher on Special Assignment at UCMP.)

Jennifer Johnson, always ready
with a smile.

Susan Floore, who coordinated the INQUIRES institute, was pleased with the results. Following is an excerpt from her note to ISTAT project director Judy Scotchmoor after the institute:

"The 7th grade 'INQUIRES' teachers involved were very receptive to and excited by the UCMP programs they previewed. They felt that the programs covered some fossil-related core concepts that were not adequately or effectively addressed in the other materials that had been presented earlier...Thank you for your strong support of our middle school program!"

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