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Hot Summer Science Programs Offered By Copernicus


Summer Science Programs Sizzle at UC Riverside

Copernicus Project offers hands-on experience in two separate programs for science teachers and their students.

(July 27, 2007)

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David Susuras, high school physics teacher from Vista Del Lago High School in Moreno Valley, demonstrates how a banana can be used as a hammer.<br />
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David Susuras, high school physics teacher from Vista Del Lago High School in Moreno Valley, demonstrates how a banana can be used as a hammer.



RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Exploding water bottles, a banana used to hammer a nail, a mock dig at the La Brea Tar Pits and a game played with invasive insects, are just a few examples of the visually stimulating experiments used to engage teachers and students in science through UCR’s Copernicus Project. Lab experiments and unique lesson plans are offered to K-12 teachers and students during the Science Summer Institute and to community college students during the Community College Internship programs.

Copernicus, now in its third year, helps identify and prepare science teachers, a rare resource in the public schools. The program was launched by a five-year, 11.5 million Teachers Quality Enhancement Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund initiatives and programs to identify and recruit future science teachers. This summer alone, 150 people have gone through Copernicus programs.

One of these programs, the Community College Internship program, begins July 30 and runs through August 10. Sixty community college students from Santa Monica Community College, Pasadena City College, Chaffey College and Riverside Community College come to UC Riverside to gain experience in a classroom setting.

“The CCI program strengthens their knowledge of science and raises their confidence,” said Steve Gomez, co-director of Copernicus. “We teach them about teaching.”

Not only does the program offer a chance to experience teaching science, but community college students attending the program get a sense of what it’s like to attend a four-year college by staying in dorms on the campus during the two-week period. Although these students already have an interest in science, CCI also provides a glimpse of what it’s like to be a science teacher. The project will track their education and career path.

The Science Summer Institute held at UCR in early July provides teachers with fresh ideas on lesson plans and classroom experiments. In addition, high school students also attend SSI and can learn about teaching science.

“They have the chance to experience what goes on behind the scenes in lesson planning, get to develop their own plans and get input from teachers on the plans,” Gomez said.

High school students, selected by their teachers, teach their own lesson plan during the next school year. The plans are taught by the high school students as a team to grade school students in the Inland Empire.

The overall theme of these programs is to illustrate how the subject they are learning relates to their lives and the lives of their students.
Dr. Maria-Chiara Simani provides her physics expertise in whipping up orange-flavored sorbet.Enlarge

Dr. Maria-Chiara Simani provides her physics expertise in whipping up orange-flavored sorbet.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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