Jeff's Corner


I hope everyone has had a productive, restful summer. I am still recovering from our African Adventure. I think my brain still thinks its in the Southern Hemisphere........or maybe I'm just another year older. Below are some thoughts on various topics that will have an impact this next year.

 

Building Addition

With the new school year comes some exciting changes and challenges for us at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center/CSRA Hub. Hopefully sometime in September we will be moving into our new addition. We will have much more space to better serve you. Although we will begin our move in September, we may not begin holding our student programs in the new facility until January. We will be waiting on special laboratory furniture to be installed and this may not be completed until late September or early October. I hope we will be able to hold some of the SEED activities in the new addition on October 23.

 

IMA Degree

This past year our IMA degree (Interdisciplinary Master's of Arts Degree in the Natural Sciences) program took off. We've had close to 25 teachers enroll in the IMA program. Unfortunately, the University system has enforced some new rules that will impact our program. In the past, we have been able to offer contract courses as part of various grants. Although we are still able to offer contract courses, the university system will only allow two (2) contract courses to count towards an IMA. This rule went into effect this summer and those contract courses taken previous to this summer are not affected by this rule. Contract courses will have a PD (Professional Development) prefix attached to the course number. The PD designation should not affect those teachers taking a course for recertification requirements.

 What this rule does impact is that teachers enrolled in the IMA program will need to be careful of those courses they sign up for through the Center. We will indicate those courses that are contract courses vs. those that are not PD courses. We will still charge $75 as the course fee for the contract course (PD course). Starting in January 2000, those courses that are not contract courses will go up in price to $175 per course. This is still a break from the normal $459 per 3-hour course that certified teachers normally pay.

 The other issue we are trying to tackle is the tuition rate for Georgia residents. With the contract courses and non-contract courses paid for through the RPSEC, Georgia residents will pay the $75 and $175 respectively. For those courses that are not paid for through the Center, they will have to pay full, out-of-state tuition, which currently is $1,284 per 3-hour course. We are still looking into this issue and hope to have it resolved in the near future.

 We apologize for the inconvenience and problems this may be causing you. We are doing everything possible to resolve these issues so we can continue bringing high quality, affordable courses to teachers in the CSRA.

 

New Staff Member

 On July 1, Ms. Pam Wash, formerly of JET Middle School in Edgefield, became the newest member of the RPSEC/CSRA Hub family. She will be a science specialist working with teachers and schools from Allendale, Aiken, Barnwell and Edgefield Counties. Pam is a CLI graduate, and has an IMA degree. She also has a penchant for working long hours and will fit in well with the rest of our staff. So next time you visit the Center, stop by and say hello to Pam.

 

Congratulations to Teddy Shuler

 The next time you see Teddy Shuler, Education Associate for the Natural Resources Science, Mathematics, Engineering Education Program, congratulate her for being named South Carolina's facilitator of the year for Project Learning Tree. Way to go Teddy!

 

Goodbye to Harold Ornes and Diana Rice

 As we welcome Pam as the newest member of our staff, we say goodbye to two good friends of the Center. Dr. Harold Ornes, professor in the Biology Department has moved to Cedar City, Utah to become the Dean at the Southern Utah University. He officially started on July 1. Cedar City is just outside of Zion National Park and Harold tells me he has already visited a number of natural wonders found within 30 minutes of his new home. We wish Harold the best of luck in his new endeavor. We will miss him.

In addition to Dr. Ornes's departure, Dr. Diana Rice, Science Educator for the School of Education, has taken a job at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Diana will be sorely missed at USCA. We wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor.

 

Teacher Specialists Assigned to Allendale

Two Aiken County teachers were hired by the South Carolina Department of Education to work as teacher specialists for the Allendale County School System. Shirley Makin, from North Aiken Elementary School and Janice Kitchens, from Busbee Elementary School were hired to work at Allendale Primary and Fairfax Elementary respectively. The teacher specialists positions were made available through the Education Accountability Act passed through legislation this past year. We wish both Shirley and Janice luck in their new positions. Aiken County's loss is Allendale's gain.

 

Field Courses for Summer 2000

We will offer two field courses for the summer of 2000. Africa was such a success this year I thought we would try to put together another trip for next summer. In addition to the Africa Course, Dr. Gary Senn will lead a trip through New England. Keep an eye out for field trip descriptions in this newsletter and future newletters.

 

The World Around Us - Interactive South Carolina Education Television Program

On September 7, we will begin the 5th year of "The World Around Us". The World Around Us is a 30 minute, live, interactive educational television program that is broadcast to all schools in South Carolina. This year will be the second year of statewide broadcast. The show airs from 10:00 - 10:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month except for November, January and April. Each month I bring a guest on the program to talk about what they do for a living. Most guests have some connection to science or mathematics. Students watching the program can call their questions in live to the guest during the program. The program is broadcast from the Blackville SCETV taping center.

We will kick off the fifth season with a virtual tour of the Houston Space Center Research Facility. We will hook up live to Houston where we will be given a "live" tour of the facility and have a chance to ask questions of people who work at the facility. This will be our first attempt at a "remote" location.

 

SSI Update

When you receive this newsletter, the South Carolina Statewide Systemic Initiative will be starting its second year of the Phase II initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, South Carolina Legislature and the South Carolina Department of Education. During the second year the Hubs will continue to concentrate on providing long term professional development to schools through content courses, curriculum standards workshops, cluster school leadership academies, administrative leadership academies, and various other activities designed to help schools increase student achievement in science and mathematics.

Products to look for that have been completed or are near completion that I think are going to be of help to schools and school systems are the Content Standards Item Bank (CSIB), Data Analysis Tool Kit, and Curriculum Selection Guidebook.

The CSIB is an item bank containing PACT-like questions on the various content strands. The mathematics items have been available to teachers since March of 1999. Hopefully the science items will be on line by January of 2000. The math items can be visited at http://scssi.scetv.org/pact.

The Data Analysis Tool Kit is a professional development experience that includes a guidebook that will help educators make decisions based on the various data that is collected by schools. Types of data used are test scores, attendance reports, surveys, grade reports, etc. With the new accountability system, schools will be required to use data and incorporate the use of data in their school accountability plans.

The Curriculum Selection Guidebook will be a resource that will help schools determine which curriculum materials are best for their schools. This guidebook is being developed in cooperation with the National Research Council and will hopefully be available sometime this fall. This will hopefully help schools over the next couple of years during the next textbook adoption cycles for mathematics and science.

 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, we have a lot on our plate this year. As always, please let us know how we can better serve you. Please drop by and say hello when you are in the area. Have a safe, enjoyable, productive year.


August '99 Newsletter Index

RPSEC Newsletter Index

Copyright © 1999 by the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center
Center of Excellence in Educational Technology
University of South Carolina Aiken
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801
803-641-3313

URL: http://rpsec.usca.sc.edu/ /newsletter/Aug99/corner.html (August, 1999)