Over the past decade, the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) has brought Cornell scientists and K-12 teachers together to improve science education. Together, we have developed more than 50 educational resources, in addition to offering a wide array of hands-on programs for our local community, the greater New York community, and students and teachers across the nation and in Puerto Rico.
CCMR’s lending library of prepackaged experiments and our partnerships with faculty at Tuskegee University and the University of Puerto Rico have significantly extended CCMR’s reach. We are committed to helping raise the level of proficiency in K-12 science education in the United States.
CCMR members and participants create a lot of excitement among K-12 students and teachers. More than 60 faculty and 70 graduate students and postdocs are in K-12 classrooms, at the Ithaca Sciencenter, and on the Cornell campus, presenting lessons and workshops. In addition, the CCMR Modules Series—lessons and experiments—run at elementary, middle, and high schools. Because we have developed strong relationships with teachers, the CCMR has opportunities to work with entire school districts, including the Syracuse City School District and the Harlem Children’s Zone Schools in New York City. We collaborate with the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences to offer professional development for teachers in New York. We also work with faculty at Tuskegee University to develop science modules for teachers in Alabama and with Ana Rita Mayol, Chemistry, and the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras to adapt CCMR’s modules for Spanish-speaking students.
Last year, the Syracuse City School District received a three-year Mathematics Science Partnerships grant from the New York State Education Department, which enables CCMR scientists and engineers to reach 38 schools and impact about 14,000 students. Joel Brock, Applied and Engineering Physics, created a module on physics for fourth-grade students. Brock developed a hands-on activity on forces, using weights, form padding, and a clear Plexiglas tube. These activities help students see the relationships between weight and force and between height and force. At the request of the district’s field coordinator for science and technology, the CCMR also provided physical science modules for the district’s teacher professional development plan.
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