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 Tuesday, July 26, 2005 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Program for Denver Area girls is "Simply the Best"
By Allison Sylvest

Simply the Best is a program that lives up to its name. Created in 1999 by Director Margaret Eisenhart, distinguished professor and the Bob and Judy Charles Professor of Education in the School of Education, the program gives underrepresented middle school girls an appreciation for science and technology and how it can be used to their advantage.

Simply the Best is an after-school community outreach program conducted in the Five Points area of Denver. About 30 African American and Latina girls participate each year and work on activities that are designed to meet their interests, incorporating science and technology in fun and accessible ways.

The concept for the program was born out of Eisenhart's lifelong fascination with people and how they learn. During college she began studying why different groups did or did not succeed in school and found that both ethnic identity and gender played important roles in students' views of achievement.

Eisenhart has collected data on participant responses to Simply the Best since it began. Many girls return each year. Two participants who started in 2000 have graduated high school and are going to junior college. "I don't want to say our program is responsible for them going to college because I think it's a combination of several factors, but I think it has helped. It's very gratifying to be part of something like this," said Eisenhart

Simply the Best will remain a small, community outreach project, as Eisenhart feels it functions best in an intimate setting. Currently, she is turning her attention to schools and science teachers. A grant from the Rose Community Foundation is funding work with Denver Public Schools to assist science teachers in reaching low income, underrepresented middle school girls.

Eisenhart also is working with the National Research Council on standards for educational research. She's writing about these issues and analyzing data from Simply the Best this summer.

In addition, she spearheaded a revision of the School of Education doctoral program, implemented for the first time in 2004-2005. Feedback from students will be used to fine-tune the program. She's also raising money for Simply the Best. "It's not easy to keep asking people to contribute, but it's important," said Eisenhart.

For more information on Simply the Best visit the web site.


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