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Copernicus Project Takes its Message to L.A.


UCR’s Outreach Efforts Culminate with Science Education Coalition Summit Held at USC

Copernicus Project joins forces with Competitive Crisis Council to enlighten underserved middle school students and their parents to the benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

(September 10, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The addition and multiplication focus of an upcoming education summit isn’t just about mathematics, it’s about increasing the number of students who enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In conjunction with the Competitive Crisis Council’s (CCC) summit at USC on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19-20, UCR’s Copernicus Project will host a two-hour workshop aimed at middle school science teachers. The workshop will be held on the 20th.

The second annual Science Education Summit will address the need to increase the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors to ensure a greater number of professionals entering careers in these fields. By bringing together hi-tech industry professionals with K-12 and higher education faculty and administrators, the group hopes to find solutions that will increase future numbers of highly qualified teachers needed to teach these subjects.

The Competitive Crisis Council’s vision is to develop qualified talent in California to meet the technical workforce demand crisis in the United States and address the challenges posed by the global economy.

“The point being made was that there is a state and national crisis in producing “homegrown” talent who will be able to keep the country at the forefront of technology and scientific innovation,” said Steve Gomez, co-director of the Copernicus Project. “And, there is a need to call national attention to the crisis and ways to address the fact that there are an increasingly disproportionate amount of Hispanic and other minority students going into STEM fields. In other words, despite the growing numbers of “minority” students, very little of them are obtaining degrees in STEM fields. Copernicus Project aims to prepare these students early-on with the skills they need to successfully pursue a STEM education and earn a STEM degree.”

The Copernicus Project will facilitate the two-hour workshop “High Performance Science Education: An Inquiry-Based Approach.” The hands-on workshop will share successful K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives, promote science teaching as a career, propose strategies for engaging underserved student populations and increasing student involvement in science and engineering in K-5 schools.

All middle school science and mathematics teachers are welcome to attend for free but seating is limited and those interested in attending the workshop must register at http://cccsummit2008.eventbrite.com/

“Research, current events and common sense underscore that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical if our students and our nation are to remain competitive in a 21st century global economy,” said Linda Scott-Hendrick, director of the Copernicus Project. “The purpose of our workshop is to coalesce around critical issues for STEM education, to probe the questions and problematics that arise from those discussions, and to present a model of inquiry-based pedagogy for science education that we have found to be successful in addressing these issues.”

The Copernicus Project, a five-year, federally funded program designed to enhance the recruiting, training and retention of science teachers, has developed an inquiry-based model which has correlated with significantly higher student test scores, improved teacher confidence levels, and substantial involvement from the state, national, and international business community. Now in its fourth year, the project’s efforts have also demonstrated improved teacher attitudes toward teaching all learners (including English learners and special needs students), and increased use of technology to help all students learn.

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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