Campus: CSU, Northridge -- September 8, 2000

National Science Foundation Awards CSUN $118,099 To Continue Research Program for K-12 Teachers

Cal State Northridge has been awarded $118,099 from the National Science Foundation to continue a program designed to improve the research skills of K-12 teachers.

The two-year old Research Experiences for Biology Teachers gives teachers from kindergarten through high school the opportunity to work alongside CSUN biology professors in the laboratory as they conduct research in a variety of subjects, from microbiology and molecular genetics to the ecology and marine biology.

"The program gives K-12 teachers a chance to do research and learn how to teach their students to do research properly. Many of the teachers and their students have published papers about what they've done and even made presentations at national conferences," said CSUN biology professor Steven Oppenheimer, who oversees the program.

Oppenheimer said the National Science Foundation grant would help the program continue and provide those teachers who complete the program with stipends of $1,800 to take back to their classrooms. More than 60 local teachers over the past two years have studied with 16 of CSUN's biology faculty.

"There has been tremendous enthusiasm in our faculty for getting involved in an effort to improve K-12 education," Oppenheimer said.

Oppenheimer said the teachers must spend at least six weeks working alongside CSUN faculty in the laboratory, but many return when their time is over to continue their research or to bring their students in to participate in the studies.

"One teacher I remember in particular works with learning disabled and hard of hearing students. Those students are now doing first rate research," he said.

In addition to the stipend, Oppenheimer said the teachers earn university credits that can sometimes be applied toward their credential requirements or educational incentives offered by their districts.

"But most of them are just really interested in being better teachers - to be able to go back into their classrooms and teach their students to do the same thing they were doing in our laboratories or an off-shoot of what they were doing in the university labs," he said.

California State University, Northridge has more than 28,000 full- and part-time students and offers 48 bachelor's and 39 master's degrees. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley.

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