WCSU courses seek to enrich science and math education for children
More than two dozen teachers from elementary schools in the Danbury area peered through microscopes in a Western laboratory during a class earlier this year when they came face to face with the hidden world of genetics — and the infinite potential to educate children in the sciences.
WCSU Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou recalled how the school teachers responded to the thrill of viewing cells under the microscope as she explained how those cells continuously replicate DNA and divide to produce identical copies of themselves.
“It was an amazing moment,” Pinou recalled. “All of a sudden, their world had become the cell — that was life! Understanding how life works at the microscopic scale was very empowering for these elementary school teachers.”
Pinou’s life sciences instruction on the theme, “Define the Limits of Your Eyes,” comprised the second in a four-part series of WCSU courses specifically designed to prepare elementary school teachers to become math and science education coaches for other faculty members at their schools. The first course in the series, taught last year by Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. David Burns, provided a foundation in math knowledge. Professor of Chemistry Dr. Russ Selzer recently completed a third segment covering basic concepts in chemistry, and Assistant Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology Dr. Albert Owino has served as instructor during June for the final section on physics principles.
The courses are being offered as part of a three-year program in science and math education enrichment at the elementary school level, supported by a grant from the Connecticut Department of Education. Twenty-six teachers from elementary schools in the Danbury, New Milford and Newtown public school districts and the Bridgeport Diocese school system have participated in this inaugural effort to train science and math teaching coaches for elementary school faculties. Participants earn WCSU credits for each course completed and will receive a certificate in teacher coaching awarded by the Department of Education.