Teacher team externship with Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach
The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context. Inquiry-based teaching and project-based learning are important for the Academies’ goal of teaching students how to think critically and creatively to solve problems in the classroom and real world. To bring these ideas to MNPS classrooms, academy partners in Nashville have joined forces with the Academies of Nashville to educate teachers about the realities of working life in different careers. The result of this collaboration is the Teacher Team Externship Program. The program is an opportunity for teachers to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. A teacher team works together to create interdisciplinary projects that reinforce the theme of their academy across subject areas.
In June 2011, teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy of Science and Engineering and Hillsboro High School’s Academy of Global Health and Science worked with the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach. The teacher team focused on creating coursework that addresses real-world problems and challenges that can be addressed through scientific inquiry. During the first week, the teacher team collected samples to test water quality in Richland Creek and Cooper Creek. Using these samples, the teachers studied the relationships between macroinvertebrates, water chemistry, microbiology, nanotechnology, infectious diseases, and forensic geology. In the second week, the teachers worked on forensic science, meteorology, entomology, and diabesity. The goal of this wide variety of activities was to help the instructors see how these different fields of scientific inquiry intersect in real-world application.
This teacher team participated in these activities to develop coursework and lesson modules that will support the Interdisciplinary Science and Research Program at Stratford and Hillsboro. The goal of this program is to introduce students to core scientific principles in the first two years of high school so that these students can move on to advanced, independent research in the final two years of high school. By encouraging students to move from passive learning of information to actively discovering through experimentation and laboratory work, this program is working toward the full integration of STEM education into the science curriculum at Hillsboro and Stratford.