American Chemical Society Annual Meeting highlights Penn's Masters of Chemistry Education

08/18/04

PHILADELPHIA Today, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania's Masters of Chemistry Education program will explain how they turned their high school classrooms into working experiments in teaching chemistry. The presentations are the focus of an entire session of the at the American Chemical Society's 228th National Meeting.

The Masters of Chemistry Education program, currently in the fifth year of a five-year National Science Foundation pilot grant, is unique among major universities in that it provides high school science teachers access to researchers in chemistry and education so they may learn the teaching tools necessary to instill a practical understanding of chemistry in their students.

Led by faculty of Penn's Department of Chemistry and Graduate School of Education, the program is based on the notion that the proper understanding of chemistry will help high school students bridge the sciences, from biology to the environment to physics.

The 26-month program, which includes three summers, enables high school teachers to take classes and participate in chemistry research while working full-time. Thanks to the program's sponsors, teachers accepted into the program receive tuition scholarships.

"The program seeks to expand a teacher's knowledge of chemistry as well as incorporate the latest educational research-based techniques to make chemistry class more meaningful for students," said Constance Blasie, program director for MCE. "We encourage the teachers to see their classroom as an evolving experiment, and today's presentations will show how a few of them have incorporated what they learned into the classroom experience."

The Masters of Chemistry Education program is supported by the National Science Foundation; Penn's School of Arts and Sciences; The Lynch Foundation of Marblehead, Mass.; the Dupont Center for Collaborative Research and Education; The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Inc.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Rohm & Haas Company; and the Urban Systemic Project of the School District of Philadelphia.

The presentations will include, in order:

    Classroom research in the service of teacher education: MCE style
    Tracey Otieno, an MCE evaluator who taught at Furness High School in Philadelphia, discusses how science teachers can conduct research on their own teaching practice and how it changes student learning.

    Representations and chemistry: An indispensable union
    Thomas L. Horsley of the Pennington (N.J.) School examines the importance of teaching students the fundamental skills needed to visualize chemistry in order to understand its principles.

    Mimicking methods and modeling molecules: Analysis of gestures used during a high school chemistry lab
    Thomas M. Loschiavo of Holy-Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pa., explores the hand gestures students make when explaining chemistry concepts to each other and how teachers can further incorporate these gestures to enhance scientific literacy.

    Co-teaching for emphasizing literacy strategies in the science classroom
    Marlene F. Brubaker of Camden County Technical Schools in Pennsauken, N.J., explains how bringing in an outside reading specialist can enhance the practical understanding of the language of science in the science classroom.

    Exploring effects and expanding implementation of co-teaching structures inside and outside a classroom
    Debra D. Liberman, Jonathan Nguyen and Ignacio Jayo, co-teachers of the Advanced Placement Biology program at George Washington High School in Philadelphia, discuss strategies to incorporate multiple instructors in a single course.

    Implementation of the Penn Inquiry Model in an advanced placement chemistry class
    Robin M. McNemar of Lower Moreland High School in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., shares the results of using the Penn Inquiry Model, which assists high school teachers in taking on the role of a learning guide while allowing students to work together to solve problems and understand difficult concepts.

    Student PowerPoint presentation on advanced topics in chemistry to enhance learning after the AP Chemistry examination
    Lisa M. Mrvica of Moorestown (N.J.) High School shares her approach to encouraging students to independently make sense of advanced chemistry topics. Following the Advanced Placement Chemistry examination, Mrvica asked her students to research a chemistry topic and discuss it in front of the classroom. The PowerPoint presentations improve their understanding of chemistry as well as their technology, communication and presentation skills.

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