For immediate release
Release date: April 11, 2008
Contact: John Lynch, 615-898-2919
MTSU Professors Focus on Links between Science and Civics
Innovative Education Project Featured on Capitol Hill Next Week
(MURFREESBORO) — Students burning peanuts in the classroom may sound like a discipline problem, but for Dr. Mari Weller, professor of physics and astronomy at Middle Tennessee State University, it’s a way to help students understand chemical reactions in a context of civic responsibility.
“When we think about energy” Weller said, “we usually think about things like gasoline, natural gas or coal, but another energy source is the things we eat and that's something that they need to think about because, for instance, when we use corn to make biofuels, we don't use that same corn to feed people.”
She will be in Washington, D. C. next week to present a poster on her work with Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, professor of chemistry at MTSU. The two have been developing a general education science course that focuses on the links between scientific issues and civic responsibility.
Her April 15 poster presentation, along with those of educators and students from 27 other colleges and universities, will be the culminating event of the National Center for Civic Engagement and SENCER’s Washington Symposium.
SENCER – Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities – is the signature program of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, NCSCE, a research center affiliated with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
SENCER is a faculty development and science education reform program supportedby the National Science Foundation. The program engages students in science and mathematics by focusing coursework on real world problems. This method extends the impact of student learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society.
Colleges and universities using the SENCER approach have had measurable success in increasing the interest and science literacy rates of students, especially regarding women and nonscience majors. The program also supports initiatives in science and mathematics major courses, teacher preparation, formative assessment, and high school education.
Each year, SENCER and the NCSCE offer national and regional symposia, workshops on innovative pedagogies, campus visits, and sub-awards to support an ever-growing community of educators endeavoring to improve student learning.
The Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session is an annual gathering of invited educators, administrators, and students with mature SENCER projects who discuss next steps in improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and present their own successful course revisions and developments to their congressional delegations and all other interested parties.
Panel discussions, workshops, and keynote speakers are scheduled for the first two days of the symposium, April 13 and 14. Participants will meet with members of their congressional delegations during the morning of April 15 prior to the poster session from 12 – 2:30 p.m. in Rooms B-339 and B-340.
The April 15 poster session and reception will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building. Please contact the SENCER Washington, D.C. office at (202) 483-4600 or consult www.sencer.net for more information regarding the Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session or the SENCER Centers for Innovation.
A video clip of Dr. Weller and her class is available at http://www.mtsu.edu/~proffice/MT_Record/2008/MTR0804-Apr08.html#Energy.
For MTSU news and information, go to mtsunews.com.