Through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Chapman University is giving two local science teachers a unique research learning opportunity this summer. Two Orange County high school science teachers, Christian Quinteros (MA Teaching ’20), a physics teacher at Portola High School in Irvine, and Peter Ly, a chemistry teacher at Santa Ana Unified School District’s Círculos, were selected to participate in Chapman’s Summer Teacher Research Experience Program, which combines immersive fieldwork and active lab training.
To kick off the summer program, Quinteros, who earned his graduate degree at Attallah College of Educational Studies, and Ly traveled to the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine to take a two-week fieldwork and scientific methods course. Now that they’ve returned, they’ll spend another eight weeks working in Chapman’s Comparative Biomaterials Lab run by Doug Fudge, Ph.D., associate professor of biological science in Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. In collaboration with Tara Barnhart, Ph.D., assistant professor of teacher education in Attallah College, they’ll then transfer their experiences at Shoals and from Fudge’s hagfish research lab into their high school classrooms during the 2021-2022 academic year and beyond.
Innovative Program Teaches the Teachers
Originally scheduled for summer 2020, the Summer Teacher Research Experience Program was postponed until summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once COVID restrictions eased, Quinteros and Ly traveled to the Shoals Marine Laboratory, where they studied with marine biologists and explored the marine environment in and around Appledore Island, Maine.
Now that they’ve returned from their trip, Quinteros and Ly will spend eight weeks in Dr. Fudge’s lab engaging in research on hagfish slime biogenesis and evolution. Their research will include working with a Zeiss laser scanning microscope and Zeiss Axioimager epifluorescent microscope to document the intracellular anatomy of hagfishes’ slime-producing cells. They’ll also learn how to use equipment such as GoPro cameras and techniques such as high-speed and time-lapse videography, which can be incorporated into future high school lesson plans on animal behavior and locomotion.
The summer travel and lab experiences are supported by a NSF $28,000 supplemental award for Dr. Fudge’s existing $420,000 NSF grant through the RET (Research Experience for Teachers) program.
For their participation during summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 academic year, Quinteros and Ly were each awarded a $10,000 stipend. The NSF grant also covered their travel expenses to and from the Shoals Marine Laboratory as well as a field trip to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California to visit its hagfish collection.
Ready to Teach Next-Gen Science
In addition to their summer research responsibilities, Quinteros and Ly will participate in monthly collaboration meetings with Drs. Fudge and Barnhart throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. The Chapman faculty will help them design lesson plans for their high school students that integrate what they learned this summer and emphasize the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices.
Dr. Barnhart said she and Dr. Fudge are excited to work with Quinteros and Ly to translate their summer research experience into rigorous lessons for their students.
“Christian and Peter’s lessons will feature both how science is actually done in the real world and illustrate the fascinating questions that can be pursued just by paying attention to the world around us,” said Dr. Barnhart. “This collaboration helps bridge the gap between theoretical science teaching practice taught in universities and the practical implementation of practice in K-12 classrooms.”
Ultimately, the NSF-funded program seeks to strengthen the quality of local science education and raise awareness of careers in STEM for local high school students.
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