Inspiring teachers the key to inspired science learning

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Scientists, education experts and experienced teachers have collaborated on a new professional program aiming to generate “radical change” in high school science teaching.

Launching on 7 October, U @ Uni Inspiring Science Teaching is a free professional learning program for year 7-10 science teachers from selected schools in South West Sydney and regional NSW.

The program, an initiative of the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology, Sydney, aims to enhance teachers’ knowledge, skills and capacity to engage with students from diverse backgrounds and to inspire science teaching and learning through the establishment of a “community of practice”.

The program consists of five days of face-to-face discussions, hands-on science activities and workshops and will run twice; during term 4 2014 and again in January 2015.

It focuses on hard-to-teach topics in chemistry and physics, with reference to stage 4 and 5 of the NSW science syllabus.

“Science teachers face many challenges that seem to be common amongst all teachers, for example how to make a particular topic interesting and easy to understand for students,” said Professor Tony Baker, UTS’s Head of School, Chemistry and Forensic Science.

“However, teachers serving in disadvantaged communities have additional challenges specific to their environment and often have less support and resources.

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“We want to see greater uptake of science subjects by students in low-SES areas. We want to support teachers in inspiring their students about science and improve learning outcomes, particularly in chemistry and physics.

“Knowing how students learn is important, having a strong background in the science is also important. Teachers who effectively put these together give students a great learning opportunity.

“As part of this project, we are establishing a science teaching community of practice so that teachers will be able to support each other and continue to network and collaborate long after the workshops are over.”

Professor Baker said the project had been developed in consultation with an advisory committee with input from current science teachers, head teachers, principals and education experts.

Teachers who attend the 2014 program will become UTS:Science Champions and be given the opportunity to mentor the next group of participants and to assist with the development and delivery of the program in 2015.

Further information on the program is available on the UTS:Science webpages.

(Source: University of Technology, Sydney)

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Date Created: October 17, 2014