College Of Engineering Wins NSF Grant For Graduate Teaching Fellows In K-12

Published: Aug. 18, 1999

The Integrated Teaching and Learning Program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder has been awarded a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to start a Graduate Teaching Fellows program in K-12 classrooms throughout the Boulder Valley School District.

The program will place 10 graduate-level engineering students each year in local schools to help teachers integrate hands-on learning activities in math, physical science and technology classes. Two undergraduate engineering students also will be involved.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows program builds on the successful reforms in engineering education that are at the core of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program in the college of engineering. Jackie Sullivan and Larry Carlson, co-directors of the ITL Program, and post-doctoral NSF Fellow Janet deGrazia will co-lead the new K-12 program with extensive participation from key Boulder Valley teachers.

The opportunity to collaborate with Boulder Valley science and technology teachers and to use hands-on activities to make engineering come alive for pre-college students motivated Sullivan, deGrazia and Carlson to propose the program to NSF. Several Boulder Valley schools have volunteered to collaborate during this pilot school year, and Boulder High physics teacher Scott Partridge, a petroleum engineer in his previous career, will serve as a lead teacher for the program.

Starting in September, students selected for the program will begin half-time appointments at Boulder High School, Summit Middle School and Bear Creek Elementary School. Additional schools will be selected in the coming weeks.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows will serve as a resource to math, science and technology teachers in participating schools and will spend at least 10 hours a week in K-12 classrooms working with teachers and students to integrate hands-on learning activities into the curriculum. The Fellows also will assist teachers in developing and testing new experiments and hands-on modules to demonstrate theoretical concepts.

CU-Boulder faculty from five engineering disciplines will serve as the graduate students' mentors.

In addition, a doctoral student from CU-Boulder's School of Education will develop assessment tools to gauge the effectiveness of the program and promote continuous improvement throughout its three-year cycle.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows program will round out the slate of pre-college engineering outreach programs already offered through the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, which received a Program of Excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in 1998.

The ITL Program also offers "Engineering in Everyday Life" summer classes for K-12 students and teachers, and a "Success Institute" for Denver area minority students.