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Bethel faculty finds new ways to collaborate with teachers

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College science and mathematics faculty continue to work at collaborating with science and math teachers at local public schools as well as keeping up with technical innovations in teaching methods.

On Nov. 4, the science and math faculty hosted nine teachers from six area schools for a morning workshop focusing on Web-based computational resources in science and mathematics.

The teachers were Jerry Epp, Eunice Nickel and Philip Schmidt from Newton High School, Adam Robb from Moundridge High School, Jason Peters from Hesston High School, Ruth Baldner and Sharon Loewen from Hillsboro High School, Andrea Siefkes from St. John High School and Dennis Flickner from Santa Fe Middle School in Newton.

Dale Horst, Newton, chair of the Bethel College STEM Advisory Council, also attended the workshop to help promote Bethel’s Summer Science Institute, a week-long science camp for high school-age students, with the science and math teachers. The advisory council was formed to help support Bethel’s undergraduate programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the STEM fields.

“The possibility of offering this workshop arose last summer when several Bethel faculty attended a workshop at ESSDACK [Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas] in Hutchinson,” said Bethel professor of psychology Dwight Krehbiel. Robert Panoff, director of the Shodor Education Foundation in Durham, N.C., led that summer workshop, which Bethel and ESSDACK jointly sponsored.

“Dr. Panoff introduced us to a variety of computing resources to be found in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and especially at the Computational Science Education Reference Desk, the latter created by his foundation,” Krehbiel said. “About half a dozen middle school and high school science and mathematics teachers were also present and all seemed quite engaged and pleased with what they were learning.

“We found that many of these computing resources could also be very useful to us in our teaching,” he continued. “We were especially impressed by the importance of having materials that had been subjected to review by knowledgeable peers – that is one of the ideas upon which the NSDL is based.

“We are in the process of incorporating these materials into our own teaching in various ways and are interested in sharing what we learn with middle school and high school colleagues.” To that end, Bethel faculty decided to schedule the workshop on their own campus.

Following an introduction by Krehbiel, the teachers heard from Lisa Janzen Scott, assistant professor of mathematics, on resources for algebra teaching, Richard Zerger, professor of chemistry, on resources for chemistry teaching, Richard Rempel, professor of mathematics, on resources for geometry teaching, and finally Jon Piper, professor of biology, and Krehbiel on resources for biology teaching.

The final hour of the workshop was devoted to individual exploration of NSDL and related Web sites and a group discussion of resources identified, teaching strategies for using Web-based resources and how to align resources with state standards.

“At the national level, there is a great deal of interest in more substantive exchange of ideas between K-12 and college faculty,” Krehbiel said. “This workshop will begin to establish such exchanges between Bethel faculty and K-12 faculty in surrounding schools.”

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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