CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school district has won a $320,000, two-year grant that will help train sixth- through 12th-grade science teachers.
The grant, from the Illinois State Board of Education, is for the Partnership for Implementing the Framework for K-12 Science Education program.
The program is a collaboration among several groups: the school district; the University of Illinois Office Of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.
The partnership will provide teachers with high-quality training activities and resources that also align with a new national framework for teaching and learning science, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, which may be adapted by the state, said Kristin Camp, the school district's K-12 science and health curriculum coordinator.
The grant will help Champaign integrate the new national framework, she said.
It will help teachers fulfill the three goals of the new national framework: to teach kids the core ideas of science, "the scientific and engineering practices critical for children to have in this new world" and concepts every student should be familiar with that relate to all scientific topics, Camp said.
Teachers will work with UI professors to help students achieve those goals, Camp said.
For example, one topic will be freshwater resources — where water comes from when you turn on the faucet, and what happens to it when it goes down the drain.
The grant will allow for the teacher to incorporate technical simulations about that, give assessments to make sure students are understanding the concepts as they go and use science notebooks "like real scientists do in the field," Camp said.
Scientists from CERL will work with teachers to help show students how they solve real problems.
The Champaign school district has been "aggressively pursuing" grants to enrich students' lives and give teachers opportunities for professional development, said Superintendent Judy Wiegand in a news release.
The program's two-year format includes a two-week summer institute for science teachers, as well as follow-up meetings after school during the year.
It will also allow the school district's partners to visit its classrooms and other provide consultations during the school year.
"Our teachers are excited by opportunity to work directly with scientists and engineers in the field," Camp said. "This grant, one of only 10 awarded statewide, will help our Unit 4 staff become even more effective teachers in the classroom and leaders in the field of science education."