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University of Iowa News Release

July 5, 2005

Photo: Robert Yager

Pilot Project Connects Korean Math, Science Educators With UI Researchers

Some of Korea's brightest, most promising high school teachers of math and the sciences are visiting the University of Iowa for three weeks as participants of a pilot program that will expose them to some of the cutting-edge research taking place on campus, as well as new methods for teaching.

Research Participation for Exemplary Science Teachers, as the program is called, was created by the UI College of Education's Science Education Center, which has emerged as a leader in the United States in spurring science education reform and helping science teachers' professional growth. The educators arrived in Iowa City June 26 and will return to Korea July 14.

Overlapping the visit is a second group of Korean educators taking part in the UI's Short-term Professional Development Program For Korean Earth Science Teachers. That group arrives at the UI July 17 and will remain here until Aug. 14, taking part in activities designed to experience scientific inquiry and pedagogical methods, including hands-on laboratory research, field trips, cooperative small group learning, micro-teaching and community and school-site visits.

It is the first program, however, that organizers expect to become a model for similar professional development programs across the country. The cost of the math and science educators' visit is supported by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (Korea's equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the United States), which offers experience in research settings to highly inspired lead teachers who work in science magnet high schools. To participate in KOSEF internships, applicants must demonstrate that they have had an outstanding teaching career in the disciplines of math, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy or computer science.

"The credentials of the Korean teachers are extraordinary," said UI science education professor Robert Yager, who developed the program. "Several have doctorates in science and in education."

Yager said a number of Korean graduate students currently attending the UI have agreed to speak to the visitors about their experiences. In one case, he said, a UI student who was asked to discuss with the group his research in biotechnology discovered a former high school teacher sitting in the audience.

Also providing lectures and symposia are some of the keenest minds in science. UI space science pioneer James Van Allen spoke to the educators, as did fellow UI space physicist Donald Gurnett, who has designed and studied data gathered by a wide range of instruments placed aboard NASA probes to Mars and Saturn.

On July 6, the visitors will attend a lecture by Dr. James Hanson, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the UI, on "Current Advances in Human Genetics and Medicine." Hanson has held a number of national appointments, including as senior advisor to the National Vaccine Program Office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and as a member of the staff to the Assistant Secretary for Health on issues related to the future of academic health centers.

On July 7, the educators will listen to a presentation on "Project 2061, Science for All Americans" by Dr. James Rutherford, who before retiring was chief education officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and who was appointed assistant director of the National Science Foundation by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Project 2061 (named for the year when Halley's Comet is due to return) is considered the nation's most prominent long-term, comprehensive effort to foster nationwide reform in science, mathematics and technology education.

Yager said a number of Korean leaders are accompanying the educators to evaluate the Research Participation for Exemplary Science Teachers project, and scholars from the UI, Purdue University and the University of Kansas will provide an independent assessment as well, traveling to Korea later this summer to measure the project's impact on the participants.

The Science Education Center has long offered professional development programs for science and math educators. Several major science teacher education projects were centered in Iowa, including "Scope, Sequence, & Coordination" and "Iowa Chautauqua Program." The UI's Science Education has assumed the role of the main host for these projects, assisting about 3,000 K-12 science teachers in changing their beliefs, curricula and pedagogies.

Since 1995, the center has also served groups of Korean science teachers participating in short-term professional development programs with sponsorship from the Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development. The past Iowa programs for Korean teachers were favorably evaluated by the participants, and several classroom-based research projects showed the effectiveness of the Iowa program in improving science teaching and learning in Korean classrooms.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu; Program: Robert Yager, 319- 335-1189, robert-yager@uiowa.edu