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High School Biology Teachers Learn New Skills

High School Biology Teachers Will Learn New Skills and Exchange Teaching Ideas Through HHMI Grant to Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Summary

Outstanding high school biology teachers from across the country will attend summer institutes and conduct regional workshops for fellow teachers through a $2.4 million grant awarded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey.

The four-year grant will enable the Foundation to continue its widely praised summer institutes for high school biology teachers. The participants, selected through national competitions, attend intensive four-week sessions at Princeton University. They update their knowledge of biology, visit laboratories and field sites, learn computer skills and work together to develop new lessons for high school classrooms. After returning home, many help to lead one-week workshops for science teachers in their area.

"The Woodrow Wilson program does a wonderful job of bringing high school biology teachers together with working scientists, and with each other, to update the content of their classes and make science more exciting for students," said Purnell W. Choppin, M.D., president of the Institute. "They learn low-cost methods for teaching students about topics such as genetics and neurobiology. Then they share these ideas with other teachers back home."

The grant builds on a $1.6 million, three-year grant that the Institute awarded to the Foundation in 1993. The earlier grant will have provided training for more than 5,000 biology teachers by the time it runs out in August. Under the new grant, the Foundation will strengthen its ties with historically black colleges and universities, and with other institutions, to recruit more minority teachers. It will also establish a World Wide Web site for science teachers.

"The Woodrow Wilson program offers teachers the chance to learn new content and skills, adapt what they have learned to their local needs and resources, and share their approaches with other professionals," said Joseph G. Perpich, the Institute's vice president for grants and special programs. "Scientists have long benefited from this approach to continuing education; it makes sense to provide the same opportunities to science teachers."

The Institute's support of the Woodrow Wilson program is part of its larger effort to enhance science education at all levels in the United States. Since 1988 HHMI has awarded more than $500 million in grants through the largest private effort in U.S. history to improve science education. These grants are in addition to the Institute's primary function, which is the direct conduct of biomedical research at nearly 70 sites nationwide. HHMI, the nation's largest philanthropy, is a medical research organization, not a foundation.

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Jim Keeley
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