Palm Beach Atlantic University

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July 28, 2014

The Center for Integrative Science Learning

   
    F=ma (Force = mass x acceleration). CISL's Flying Pumpkins activity at Conniston.

In 2012, The Quantum Foundation awarded Palm Beach Atlantic University a grant for $175,000 over three years for a collaborative project that adopts an innovative approach to science education for middle school students at Conniston Community Middle School, an IB World School in West Palm Beach, launching the Center for Integrative Science Learning (CISL) at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

The CISL team at PBA includes Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Mireille Aleman, project director, and PBA professors of biology, chemistry, education, geology, physics, marine biology, and mathematics. The team works closely with Conniston Community Middle School Principal Oscar Otero and science educators at the school to implement STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

 

The project assists Conniston Community Middle on five separate levels:

  • Development of hands-on, creative, multidisciplinary modules to be implemented in the classroom (science and math classes).
  • Creation of after-school, theme-based science clubs, using concepts such as forensic science clubs, environmental conservation, acoustics and music, etc.
  • Incorporation of professional development by offering two, three-day sessions through a summer institute.
  • Implementation of school assemblies, to infuse enthusiasm on campus.
  • Development of community/family events to showcase students' achievements and after.
 
  A dinner of pasta, salad and dessert was prepared by Aramark, the University’s food service provider, and served by PBA student volunteers at FCAT night.

 

Accomplishments thus far include:

  • Weekly Multidisciplinary Labs: Implemented a total of 16 lab modules in the classroom during the pilot period; and developed and approved a total of eight other modules in collaboration with Conniston's teachers.
  • After-school Club: Lead several field trips to the Lake Worth/Snook Island restoration site. Creation of the Physics of Catapults club, currently in session, and the Civic Engagement and The Advancement of Science Club, with the Student Government Body at Conniston, beginning in November 2013, and will run through the end of the calendar year.
  • Professional Development Institute: Developed and implemented summer institute training for science and math teachers.
  • School Assemblies: Planned and implemented second all-school assembly.
  • Community/Family Events: Provided food to 500 people (students and their families) during Conniston's annual FCAT night and informed parents of current initiative at the science booth.

The project is expected to reach all 1,100 students at the Conniston Community Middle by the end of the third year. When it is complete, curriculum and best practices will be shared with the School District of Palm Beach County. Dr. Aleman, will publish findings in peer-reviewed journals and present at professional conferences to share best practices nationally.

Science Programs

   

Summer science camp at PBA, serving youngsters in grades K-8, provides orientation to scientific exploration and inquiry with hands-on activities and experiences through topics such as nutrition, rocks and minerals and the environment. The Summer Science Institute targeting youth grades 9-12, focuses on scientific disciplines such as chemistry, biology and medicine.

Eighty incoming first- through eighth-graders took part in “Kid vs. Wild: The Science Behind Survival Skills" summer camp, which took place June 9-13, 2014. Read more.

CISL offered a Science Institute for High School Students, including incoming ninth- through 12th-graders, taking place June 16-20, 2014.

 

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