PASADENA—Following site visits earlier this year by teams of Caltech Precollege Science Initiative (CAPSI) and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) personnel, the Pasadena Center for Improving Elementary Science Education has announced the selection of three additional sites to begin a four-year pilot school development program. The selected districts are the Inglewood Unified, Whittier City, and South Bay Union school districts.
There are now 12 California school districts participating in the program, which is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The Pasadena Center, which aims to bring a hands-on, inquiry-based style of science education to elementary-school classrooms, is one of several related science education programs conducted as part of the ongoing partnership between Caltech and the Pasadena Unified School District. The PUSD-CAPSI collaboration, which dates back to 1985, has developed an elementary science program that has proved successful not only in PUSD, but also in the Conejo Valley, California; and Maui, Hawaii, school districts.
In the program, students are motivated by their own curiosity and learn from hands-on experiments that investigate a variety of phenomena. Teachers guide the young scientists' learning with careful questions, and the children keep notebooks of their work. A large component of the program involves professional development for teachers—training them to become knowledgeable facilitators of their students' inquiry-based learning.