About the Project

Our intention for these two CSTP cohorts is to form the basis of a pilot project. At the end of 2013, we will have engaged two cohorts, including a dozen teachers, the Santa Cruz City Superintendent Gary Bloom, and many members of the PCP PIRE team. In addition to the Santa Cruz City School District, we are committed to broadening representation by recruiting another teacher in CSTP Cohort 2 (as he did in CSTP Cohort 1 with Dan Johnston) from the adjoining Pajaro School District (Santa Cruz County), which includes an even larger Latino demographic.

We are frequently asked: “Why California [and not Florida] teachers?” The reason for this is because of the enthusiasm, leadership and support of Superintendent, Gary Bloom. An avid fossil collector, he has done everything in his power to recruit the optimal teachers and make his schools’ facilities available to the PCP PIRE Team.

Summative evaluation of our “capstone” trip with CSTP Cohort 1 to Panama in July 2012 indicates a high degree of teacher satisfaction with the program and significant STEM learning gains in geology, paleontology, and tropical biodiversity. The CSTP Cohort 1 (2012) teachers were subsequently involved in a community of practice that developed curricula for their highschool science students (biology, environmental science, chemistry).

Intellectual Merit

In terms of intellectual merit, the educators from the Santa Cruz City School District would gain practical experience collecting fossils in the Neotropics, learn the nature of science (via paleontology), and STEM content related to ancient biodiversity, climate change, and evolution. The curriculum will emphasize key scientific ideas and practices in the new A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Research Council, 2011), with a focus on scientific practices, appropriate crosscutting concepts, and core ideas in the life sciences. This international experience would translate to the classroom instruction via the new curriculum. In terms of broader impacts, this program would have additional spin-off benefit to the high numbers of Latino and Spanish speaking students served in the Santa Cruz region. We would hope that by engaging these traditionally underserved students through classroom learning activities, they might be encouraged to pursue careers in science.

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