GK-12: Enhancing Science Literacy in Southeast Idaho with Community-based Projects and University/K-12 Partnerships
Idaho State University
The 38 fellow-teacher pairs have spent 8000 hours bringing locally relevant science and engineering projects to over 2500 students in schools and over 5000 through attendance at robotics expos and competitions and zoo and museum activities. Teachers incorporated new learning activities (that they "would never have done without the expertise of their GK-12 Fellows"), and K-12 students report that having a Fellow in their classroom increased their interest in science and engineering. An innovative aspect of our project is the assessment of the communication skills of Graduate Fellows through the use of a personal reflective journal. Fellows respond to a range of prompts generated by the project leaders. Responding to these prompts provides the Fellows with a concrete conscious experience in communication aimed at a range of audiences. This experience helps them to develop their abilities to organize their writing, focusing on primary points and filling in all necessary details to create clear and logically complete written and oral communications. The writings are collected and selected samples from the beginning and end of the year are analyzed with a scoring rubric based on focus, content, organization, style, and conventions. The results indicate a strong, measurable improvement in the Fellows’ communications skills. They indicate that their ability to clearly and concisely explain scientific or engineering concepts to a wide audience has improved.