Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


FARRAR, Stewart S., Earth Sciences, Eastern Kentucky Univ, Richmond, KY 40475,

ISMAM (Enhancing Inquiry-Based Science and Math in Appalachian Middle Schools) is a collaborative venture, funded by NSF, between EKU and six middle schools in southeastern Kentucky. It comprises 12 teams: two each in earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, math, and computer science. Each team has 1 EKU faculty, 1 graduate or upper-level undergraduate fellow, and 1 middle school teacher. In three years I have worked in earth science with two schools, two graduate fellows, and four teachers.

Primary goals have been to introduce components of inquiry and technology to middle school science and math classrooms. Fellows help to build inquiry units and assist in the classroom 10 hours a week, with mentoring by university faculty. All units are built to address components of Kentucky and national educational standards.

The most successful units utilize simple physical materials and equipment, such as laminated local topographic and geologic maps, physical groundwater models, and calculator-connected temperature and pH probes. Least successful units are computer-based units, because middle school computer labs are over-booked and under-maintained, and many Appalachian students have no computer-internet access at home.

Assessment of long-term contributions of this program is difficult. Certainly, mid-career teacher expertise is improved, and student achievement is enhanced with the fellow in the classroom. But, will this achievement level be maintained after the fellow is gone? We will see.