Technology Integration Partnerships
Fellows have demonstrated the use of pH probes and EKG sensors in teaching life sciences; used motion detectors in teaching science and mathematics; developed a StarLogo simulation program showing the correlation of availability of food and the population growth of mealworms in an ecological area; customized the use of applets in mathematics; taught after-school robotics teams, using Lego Mindstorms; and demonstrated what happens in an earthquake using the “shake table” at Columbia’s civil engineering laboratory. Teachers believe that the fellows help connect technology to real life; have different ways of presenting topics, which give the middle and high school students an alternative route to understanding concepts; act as role models inspiring their students to take on leadership roles; and motivate hard-to-engage students in constructing knowledge. Fellows report that the GK12 experience exceeded their expectations regarding the benefit to their personal growth and to their research. Initially, they doubted their usefulness in the classroom, but by mid-year were amazed by their comfort in the classroom. Students look forward to their “special” time with a fellow. Graduate students help teachers use technology effectively, and teachers help fellows learn pedagogical techniques and classroom-management skills. Fellows view these experiences as necessary and valuable for their future academic careers, noting the improvement in their communication skills. They feel proud to be “windows” to students’ future college careers. A fellow remarked: “On an average day, I’m just a lowly graduate student sitting in a corner of the lab; but on Thursdays I’m actually a role model.” Fellows are encouraged to integrate their K-12 experiences into their research. One fellow plans to use his middle-school science module (the scientific storytelling project) as a prototypical dry run for his research in computational linguistics and natural language processing. This should help to provide for sustainability of the GK12 program.