For several years there has been an increasing concern about the quality of science teaching and learning in our nation’s schools. This comes at a time in which science is more important than ever for maintenance our national security, national economy, and quality of life. At a personal level, knowledge of science improves our individual job opportunities, standard of living, and ability to function as an informed citizen. Few would deny the importance of science to our citizens and our nation. Chicago Public Schools is no different than the rest of the nation in its concern for the improvement of science teaching and learning.With generous funding from the Gates Foundation and Chicago Public Schools, IIT (with its partners, the Field Museum and Glencoe Publishing) has developed a High School Transformation Project (Project SLICE) designed to systematically provide professional support to science teachers in twenty (20) Chicago High Schools.
This project is quite different than other projects that have attempted to assist science teachers and students. In addition to the on-site weekly instructional support teachers will receive from project coaches, IIT and the Field Museum have developed extensive curriculum materials and activities that enhance the Glencoe Science program. These materials are different than any others in existence. Extensive attention to both scientific inquiry and nature of science permeate the materials and are designed to enhance student learning of traditional science subject matter, as well as help students develop critical thinking skills. The increased science knowledge and critical thinking skills will enable CPS students’ to make informed decisions with respect to the myriad scientifically-based personal and societal issues they face each day. For example, is it healthy to take as many vitamins as possible since vitamins are essential for your health? Is it dangerous to eat meat from cattle that have been fed hormones so they will gain weight quickly and be sent to market sooner? Is meat that has been exposed to radiation for sterilization safe to eat? Is a vegetarian diet more healthy for you than a balanced diet of meat and vegetables? Are we really in a period of global warning? Why do scientists disagree about the answers to these questions? These are just a few of the questions that may concern students, as well as anyone living in Chicago. These are also questions that can be used to make science “come alive” for our students. These are also questions that can be better understood when a student is equipped with a thorough understanding of scientific inquiry, nature of science, and scientific knowledge. Project Slice is in good hands. CO-Directors of Project Slice, Norman G. Lederman and Judith S. Lederman, of IIT, are both former science teachers and are considered international experts on scientific inquiry and nature of science.
The project is a three year project that begins with all ninth grade biology teachers in seven different schools. In the second year of the project, all 10th grade chemistry teachers in these schools will be added. In the next year all 11th grade physics teachers will be added. Consequently, with each year, the number of teachers and the impact of the project increases. In addition to the involvement of more teachers, students in each of the participating schools will have more opportunities to enroll in these special courses. In the end, it will be possible for a CPS high school student to experience a coherent three year science program during their high school years. A set of course unlike any others they have ever taken before, a set of courses that are all carefully interrelated.
So, please take a close look at this website to learn more about Project Slice. Please read about the various activities involved in the science courses we have developed and the work that our teachers and students have done. CPS students have always been as capable of success as students anywhere. Project SLICE is designed to provide students and teachers with the opportunities they so richly deserve.