The first step in strengthening a science curriculum starts with empowering teachers.

Sara Sweetman Assistant professor Education

As director of GEMS-Net, Sweetman has worked to ensure that all middle and elementary school teachers in the partnership have the tools, training, and standardized curriculum to teach science education in the classroom four to five days per week, providing all school children equal access to learning opportunities. “Students coming through the GEMS-Net districts have a sequence of research-based lessons that form a learning progression from kindergarten through Grade 8,” Sweetman says. The first step in strengthening a science curriculum, Sweetman says, starts with empowering teachers. In addition to providing schools with a core curriculum and teaching tools, each year the nearly 1,000 teachers who are part of the partnership attend workshops at the University where they collaborate with peers, build content knowledge, and interact with URI faculty serving as science mentors. Through the partnership, URI scientists also visit classrooms throughout the year to help localize the science in middle and elementary school curriculums. “If a class is studying earth history, a geologist may come in and speak about their research so the teacher is able to relate what they’re students are learning in the classroom to the real science that happens at the University and in the field,” Sweetman says.

| 34 | The University of Rhode Island { Momentum: Research & Innovation }

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