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2009 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Evolution: How Important Is It to a Good Science Education?, Science Workshop for Educators

Project Progress

11 teachers participated in this five-day, 2-graduate credit workshop designed to explore the importance of teaching evolution to middle and high school students. Penn State faculty from diverse disciplines discussed the central role of evolutionary theory in their fields, the scientific evidence supporting evolution, provided examples from their own research, and shared activities to facilitate the teaching of evolution and the nature of science in the middle and high school classroom.

Funding for the workshop was provided by NASA’s Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, Penn State’s Department of Biology, the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center, and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Support to teachers included on-campus housing, meals and partial travel support. Eleven teachers were awarded tuition subsidies, with 2 out-of-state NAI EPO recommended teachers receiving full travel support. The workshop was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Act 48 Professional Development credit.

The workshop evaluation included a daily formative evaluation, an online summative professional development questionnaire developed by the Horizon Research, Inc. and a small focus group discussion. The evaluation techniques were intended to measure the effectiveness of workshop design for increasing teacher content knowledge and improving student learning in the middle and secondary classroom.