JPL's Public Education Office will receive $45,000 as part of National Science Foundation grant to train and provide curricula to elementary school teachers with little or no experience in teaching science and math.
The grant is part of $355,000 award given to the California State Polytechnic University at Pomona (Cal Poly) by the NSF to fund the university's "Comfortable Approach to Teaching Science" or CATS program. According to CATS organizer George W. Martinek, the program aims to instruct and familiarize teachers with basic math and science concepts concerning light, sound, astronomy, and the changing nature of the Earth, and to expose them to innovative teaching aids and lesson plans.
Dr. Gil Yanow, who directs the JPL Educational Outreach program for the Public Education Office, developed the CATS concept. Yanow and Gene Vosicky, also of JPL, are principle investigators in the CATS program and will write the CATS curricula. Fifty-seven teachers and 26 school administrators will be selected to receive four weeks of intensive instruction in science and math topics next summer.
According to Yanow, the teaching program will be designed to allow teachers to explore new ideas and teaching techniques while using common textbooks now in use throughout the state.
The CATS teachers and administrators will meet in groups at JPL periodically thoughout the year for science updates in the year after their training. The program also includes two-year follow-up of teachers who will have participated in the program to determine the impact of their CATS training on students in their classrooms.
JPL is operated by the California Institute of Technology for NASA.
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