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For the past eight years, Brazos Valley area science teachers have benefited from hands-on workshops and other high-impact professional development activities offered courtesy of the Texas A&M-College Station Regional Collaborative for Science, directed by Center for Mathematics and Science Education researcher Carolyn Schroeder (background, left and at right in image below).

COLLEGE STATION --

Eight years ago while working on her doctorate in educational curriculum and instruction at Texas A&M University, Carolyn Schroeder helped write the initial grant proposal that succeeded in bringing the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science to Aggieland.

Schroeder, a senior research associate in the Texas A&M Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE), is now in her eighth year as director of the Texas A&M-College Station Regional Collaborative for Science, which recently celebrated another grant renewal along with the prospect of carrying on a tradition of providing helpful resources and hands-on, high-impact professional development experiences for science teachers throughout the Brazos Valley.

Texas A&M's is one of 66 P-16 partnerships within the award-winning statewide TRC network designed to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to engage students in meaningful science and mathematics learning experiences. Activities are designed to improve students' scientific, mathematical and technological literacy, and to inspire them to pursue science and engineering related careers. Each year the group's annual meeting brings together teacher leaders, education and business leaders, policy makers, and legislators to share, network, communicate and celebrate achievements by the collaboratives.

Schroeder says since its founding in 2005, Texas A&M's Collaborative has trained approximately 250 area teachers as Science Teacher Mentors (STM), a status requiring a minimum of 100 hours of professional development. In turn, these STMs have each provided at least 12 hours of professional development for more than 600 teachers in their local districts.

In its early days under previous director and CMSE researcher Joel Bryan, TRC focused on preparing teachers in elementary and middle school, with an emphasis on physics -- Bryan's specialty. On Schroeder's watch, the Collaborative has expanded to include PreK-12 teachers and not only physics but also biology, chemistry and earth science, which Schroeder taught for two decades at the middle- and high-school level.

In addition to multiple workshops throughout the school year, Schroeder says the program features one themed workshop each summer. This year's, held June 10-14 at Bryan Independent School District's Davila Middle School, focused on middle-school physics.

"I lead some of the workshops, but I also have instructional team members who I have recruited over the years, and they are master teachers in their fields," Schroeder said.

Currently the Collaborative is training roughly 40 STMs who are training other teachers in their districts. In addition, Schroeder and her team assist cadre members, or teachers who are not yet STMs but who attend the workshops.

"Anyone can come to the workshops throughout the year, simply by registering," Schroeder said. "They are offered for both public and private schools throughout the year, typically on Saturdays."

Each workshop features hands-on activities that translate back into the classroom. These sessions can count toward professional development hours or toward continuing education credits. Following completion of each workshop, participants receive a certificate verifying the completed hours. One workshop typically counts as six hours, while the weeklong summer workshop is 40.

"The only thing teachers may have to do with the activities is make them easier or more challenging, depending on the level of their students," Schroeder said. "I invite the students who are in aggieTEACH [Texas A&M's national peer-reviewed program model for secondary mathematics and science teacher preparation] to come to the workshops, even before they are student teaching."

Current student teachers also are encouraged to attend, Schroeder says, because the workshops feature a more informal approach and an environment more conducive to learning than the typical classroom.

Schroeder encourages science teachers who might be interested in becoming part of Texas A&M's Regional Collaborative to email her for additional information and advice. STM applications are not available until May, and STMs must commit to 100 hours of professional development through the Collaborative.

Click here to learn more about the Texas A&M-College Station Regional Collaborative for Science or to see a schedule of upcoming workshops.

For more on the Texas Regional Collaboratives and related activities, go to http://thetrc.org/trc/.

-aTm-

Contact: Carolyn Schroeder, (979) 458-8001 or cschroeder@science.tamu.edu

Lawrence Megan

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