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The University of Tennessee is conducting a summer science education workshop July 8-18 for 40 middle school science teachers from nine East Tennessee counties.

The workshop, now in its third year, is funded by $152,000 from UT-Battelle, manager of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will be held at West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, and include teachers from Anderson, Knox, Union, Grainger, Jefferson, Sevier, Blount, Loudon and Roane counties.

The teachers, nominated by their school principals, will hear lectures on various science topics and develop lesson plans and activities to teach their middle school students.

Dr. Stuart Elston, UT physics professor, and Dr. Kristin Rearden, assistant professor of teacher education, planned the coursework to focus on the Tennessee curriculum in science for grades 6-8.

They also will serve as primary instructors for the workshop, with guest lectures from other UT faculty.

Elston said the goal of the workshop is to send teachers back to the classrooms with increased knowledge and understanding of science as well as the materials, activities and lesson plans to enhance their ability to teach.

“As we help teachers prepare to teach science to their students, it is vitally important that we don’t reinforce artificial boundaries by providing professional development in physics, chemistry, biology or whatever,” Elston said.

“It is important to teach science as science and as an approach to acquiring knowledge and skill, and to teach that science spans boundaries between physics, biology and geology and so on.”

The sessions are a product of the Collaborative for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Science, or CEEMS, a program of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Health, Education and Human Sciences.

Dr. Lynn Champion, College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Lynn Cagle, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, administer the program.

“The key and unique element of CEEMS is collaboration which engages the stakeholders at all levels in pooling their resources and ideas to work toward a common goal of enhancing science education in Tennessee,” Champion said.