Scott Sharp is not a fan of lecturing to students about biology. Instead, he thinks they would benefit much more from authentic research projects. Sharp, a biology and natural history teacher in De Soto, Kan., is not alone.
There is a growing trend nationwide to add scientific inquiry and engineering design concepts to the high school curriculum. The problem is that few teachers have experience doing research or designing practical engineering solutions.
A KU-CEBC program is trying to change this. Since 2006, Sharp and 28 other teachers have engaged in biofuel research projects at KU as part of a National Science Foundation-funded program.
Recently, the NSF announced that it will continue to fund the program, called Research Experiences for Teachers, for the next three years. The roughly $500,000 award gives high school teachers--and college students training to become teachers--the chance to do authentic research. Participants also create engaging lesson activities based on their research to take back to their classrooms.
“If you give students the freedom to come up with research projects that they are interested in, they will reward you by creating really high quality work and asking some pretty creative questions,” said Sharp.
With partners at the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Greenbush, Kan, the program serves not only urban areas, but also rural populations across the state. “Ultimately, this program will encourage more students to become scientists and engineers,” said Claudia Bode, CEBC education director.
Teacher Participants, 2014
James Boyd, Gardner-Edgerton High School
Kacey Ford, Great Bend High School
Brad Greenwood, Lawrence Free State High School
Sue Hallstrom, Shawnee Mission East High School
Miles Martin, Shawnee Mission East High School
Tracie Schroeder, Council Grove High School
Laura Sixta, De Soto High School
Stan Spurlan, Olathe East High School
Amanda Stinebaugh, Central Heights High School
Undergraduate Participants, 2014
Jamie Cooper, Kansas University UKanTeach program
Andrew Davids, Emporia State University
Thomas Flynn III, Kansas University
Levi Houk, Kansas University, UKanTeach program
Cody Smith, Emporia State University
Ethan Zolotor, Kansas University
Teacher Participants, 2013
Alan Gleue, Lawrence High School
Drew Ising, Junction City High School
Teacher Participants, 2012
Nikki Burnett, Baldwin High School
Mary Criss, Wichita North High School
Brian Gahagan, Chanute High School
Jennifer Gartner, Labette County High School
Amy Johnston, Olathe North High School
Todd Petersen, DeSoto High School
Shannon Ralph, Dodge City High School
Scott Sharp, DeSoto High School