Teachers become the students at Baylor’s Summer Science Institute

Each summer, hundreds of teachers from the Houston Independent School District take on the role of students at Baylor College of Medicine’s Summer Science Institute. The intensive training program is organized by Baylor’s Center for Educational Outreach and takes place at Herod Elementary School.

The program includes presentations by scientists and inquiry-based science lessons featuring content specific to teachers’ grade levels, with a focus on the nature of science and physical science content.

This year, 356 pre-kindergarten through 8th grade HISD teachers participated in the institute.

“Participants said that they’re anxious to get back to school and can hardly wait to use the materials,” said Barbara Tharp, associate director of the Center for Educational Outreach, “They were so engaged and excited, and told me that it was one of the best programs they’ve ever attended.”

New participants attended a two-week program, returning elementary school teachers participated in a one-week program and middle school science teachers took part in a separate one-week program. Each teacher received science teaching resources and professional development credit.

Lessons are available online for the teachers who attend the two-week summer program and for teachers at their respective schools. All participants are urged to attend five Saturday follow-up sessions during the school year.

Interactive learning experience

The hands-on lessons and activities included designing a kinetic sculpture that would move with wind-power, designing paper or foam rollercoasters to explore force and motion, and exploring the senses and the connection to the brain.

The program culminated with a science festival presented by the teachers for their principals, where they demonstrated some of the concepts they mastered.

Tharp said, “It’s amazing to think about what a difference the program makes, when each participant takes back what they’ve learned and implements these lessons with all of their students.”

-By Dipali Pathak

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