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 MISEP Course Descriptions  

The MISEP includes...

...10 courses, 8 in science/math content and 2 in science education. All courses are specially designed for middle grades science teachers, meaning they emphasize connections within and among science topics, "real-life" examples, and include assignments such as creating lesson plans based on the course material.  Because the course instructors are situated at a major research institution, whenever possible state-of-the-art research topics are also included.

All courses in the MISEP are 1 credit unit (which is equivalent to 3 credit hours each).

Program of Study –

Because the MISEP is a new program and the courses are still under development, the final content courses listed here may evolve and appear in a slightly different order!

Course Descriptions –

Physics:  The Foundation of Science-- This course is placed in the first summer specifically to allow physical foundations to be laid for all subsequent courses.  Program materials will be those which promote active mental engagement of the learner, improvement of reasoning ability and provide application of principles in real-world situations.  Topics for inclusion will be Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, Energy and Momentum (top)

Math for Integrated Science -- Placed to be concurrent with the Physics course, this course will reinforce the mathematics necessary for participant success in MISEP science courses. Data analysis, including the use of Excel; creating and interpreting graphs; ratio, rate and proportion; vector diagrams, calculations; limit concepts, rates of change and necessary nomenclature; appropriate use of calculators, estimation accompanying such use; algebraic formulae manipulation, solving; signed number operations, absolute value; function notation, meaning and graphing; conceptual understanding of ‘integral’; 3-D geometry for spatial awareness; probability; plus additional topics identified in which participants need greater understanding.   All topics will be approached through science context and problem solving and active, hands-on experiences will be standard.  (top)

Physical Basis of ChemistryA most significant challenge to a science teacher in the subject of chemistry is to explain chemical phenomena to students in a way that is understandable and can induce interest for further exploration.  This course will provide the knowledge base for teachers to understand why chemical processes occur as they do, and subsequently to be able to use this knowledge to explain and inspire.  The course content will include the discovery and description of atomic and molecular structure, interactions between molecules that determine the structure and properties of matter, and the principles that guide chemical equilibrium.    (top)

Principles of Biological Science -- The major topics for this course will be animal and plant biology, cell biology and genetics, and evolution and diversity.  Each class will start with an overall question, such as "What is life?", which will be discussed in an interactive presentation led by the instructional faculty member.  Then, small groups will work together to investigate related, more specific questions using resources such as text books, the Web, and hands-on activities.  Assignments will require teachers to use what they have learned to create or adapt curricula, lesson plans, and/or hands-on activities for use in their classroom. (top)

Earth and Space Science—The Earth is unique in our solar system and in the universe.  It has seen geologic processes such as the building and erosion of mountains, the creation and destruction of oceans and the movement of the continents.  It has also been a platform for the evolution of life for 3.5 billion years.  This course will examine geological processes, such as sedimentation and plate tectonics, and materials like minerals and rocks and relate geological surveys to the Earth’s history as well as compare Earth to other planets.  Throughout the course, students will develop lesson plans and activities that relate our immediate surroundings to Earth’s history and geological activities. (top)

Environmental Science – Interactions among the human, its environment and the ecosystems constitute a critical component in our understanding of nature and will be the focus of this course.  Students will learn to identify the physical, chemical and biological processes in the environment that impact on life, and examine, in turn, the effect that living organisms have on those environmental processes.  The course will be conducted partly through laboratory and field exercises to gain an appreciation of naturally occurring phenomena.  Class participants will develo0p activities and lesson plans that assist in the understanding of complex concepts in the operation of the complex environment and ecosystems. (top)

The Chemical Basis of Living Organisms – This course will focus on the central dogma of molecular biology, amino acids and protein structure.  Current challenges in molecular biology will form the basis for depth in the course.  Topics will include current targets for intervention, bio-mimetics and biochemical evolution.  Laboratory experiences, such as induced mutations will be experiences that are transferable to science classrooms. (top)

Physics 2: The Foundation of Science – This course will continue the inquiry approach to physics started in summer 1 and will include topics such as rotational motion, waves and electricity and magnetism.. (top)

Teaching and Learning Middle School Science – Pedagogy for science in the middle grades is typically taught as part of an elementary or secondary methods course in teacher preparation programs.  In this course, participants look squarely at aspects of teaching and learning which are unique to grades five through eight.  This includes elements of psychology (i.e., the behavior and social needs of the early adolescent), effective approaches to curriculum and integrating science with other content areas (especially mathematics and language arts).   Participants approach these topics through reading of and reflection on scholarly research, model lessons and the sharing of their own classroom experiences.  The integration of learning into professional practice is facilitated through structured conversations that include close examination of student work.  Extensive use is made of the science curriculum collection at GSE, enabling participants to access nationally-developed, standards-based level science programs and consider issues involved with their enactment.   A core goal of the course is to establish and maintain a community of learners of science and middle level science education. (top)

Leadership for Middle Level Science -- The overarching themes of this course are the development of scientific literacy, issues of equity, and the balance between learning by doing science and learning science as a discourse in the middle grades.  Participants explore in-depth an aspect of their own teaching practice through action research, as well as through examination of relevant scholarly research and theory.  Class sessions involve extensive use of video analysis of science classrooms, and participants are expected to continue conversations between sessions via moderated on-line discussions.  In addition, session topics address ways in which experiences gleaned through the MISE program can be tapped to enhance middle grades science education beyond participants’ own classrooms as they provide leadership to others in their schools and districts.  (top)




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Penn Science Teacher Institute
Dr. Larry Gladney, Director
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Chemistry
231 South 34 Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323