Campus: CSU Northridge -- November 28, 2001
CSUN Receives $800,000 to Train Teachers in Science
Cal State Northridge has received more than $800,000 from
the California State Post Secondary Education Commission to train teachers
The three-year grant, from the commission's Eisenhower Professional Development
Program, will fund "The Los Angeles Super-Funded Science Leader Initiative
at Cal State Northridge, " which will provide science curriculum
training for teachers in primarily low-performing schools with high percentages
of underrepresented youngsters.
"What this funding allows us to do is provide teacher enhancement
programs year round, and that's the key for successful implementation
of the program in the classroom," said Steven Oppenheimer, a CSUN
biology professor and one of five co-directors of the project.
Oppenheimer said the university has offered science training for teachers
during the summer.
"But summer-only programs don't allow for immediate classroom implementation,
and therefore are usually less successful," he said. "It's harder
to carry on that excitement of a state-of-the-art lesson into a classroom
if a substantial time has passed."
Oppenheimer said the timing of the grant is particularly fortuitous given
recent reports that California's students ranked dead last among 40 states
in a nationwide examination of their science literacy.
"I think that we are dealing with a crisis in science training as
demonstrated by the scores on these exams," Oppenheimer said. "The
security of this country is threatened because security is fully dependent
on having the top scientists in the world. And if our science training
is third rate, then our security is definitely threatened."
Oppenheimer said the Eisenhower grant is funding a program designed to
help teachers make science exciting and something kids want to learn,
while at the same time meeting the state's new science standards.
"Science can be exciting or science can be boring, depending on how
it's taught," he said. "Our programs are designed to excite
students about science. We have a lot of hands-on activities, a lot of
experimental activities and a lot of discovery activities. We expect our
program will become a national model for how to go about providing teacher
enhancement programs that work."
Oppenheimer said the program will be working closely with the Los Angeles
Unified School District officials in the San Fernando Valley to help teachers,
many of whom have emergency credentials and no training in the sciences,
learn how to make science fun.