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Collaboration and Inquiry: Cornell University Partnerships with Rural School Districts

Paper presented by K. Porter at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 8-12, 2003

Cornell University's location provides valuable opportunities for university-community collaboration. Schools in the area tend to be rural, with limited access to resources. Two projects in place at Cornell provide opportunities for collaboration between graduate students and local K-12 students. These programs yield benefits for K-12 students by exposing them to resources (and expertise) otherwise unavailable to them; for K-12 teachers, by providing access to knowledge and resources brought to them by the graduate students; and for the graduate students who participate in the program, by giving them opportunities to teach and design curricula that would otherwise not be available to them. The differences between the two programs provide options for outreach that can fit many schedules, teaching goals, and interests.

The Graduate Student School Outreach Program (GSSOP) is open to all graduate students and local K-12 teachers. Graduate students prepare a 6-8 session "mini-course" based on an area of their interest, and they are matched to local teachers with similar interests or needs. Graduate student participants are required to submit a finalized formatted curriculum for the lessons that they have taught, and these curricula are made available to the public on the GSSOP web site. GSSOP is funded by the Public Service Center at Cornell and by alumni donations; it is a student-run and -coordinated program (currently in its twelfth year) that gives graduate students and local teachers opportunities for relatively short-term collaborations.

The Cornell Science Inquiry Partnership (CSIP) provides an opportunity for graduate students in the sciences to participate in longer-term collaborations with regional schools. CSIP is administered under the National Science Foundation GK12 initiative and is currently in its third year. CSIP fellows make a year-long commitment to teaching and outreach and receive a full fellowship and tuition waivers. Fellows may work with several middle- or high-school teachers over the course of the year, and they may teach many lessons over different time scales. As in GSSOP, CSIP fellows prepare curriculum documentation which is made available to the general public. CSIP courses focus on inquiry-based instruction, and fellows attend weekly seminars in which inquiry-based teaching and lesson planning strategies and theory are discussed.

 

 

 

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