The Southeastern Michigan Math-Science Learning Coalition World Wide Web site exists to organize and communicate resources gathered by and from stakeholders. While it is designed to serve our targeted local areas, it also, thanks to the technology, serves interested parents, teachers, students, and others worldwide. It is organized into four sections: Hands-On Science, Career Exploration, Learning Help, and Who We Are (see Appendix B). Sections are organized in relation to Coalition goals: to provide programs and activities for hands-on and discovery-based learning; to solicit and offer career presentations, tours, and job shadowing designed to motivate young people by giving them career goals; to directly support the learning of individual students; and to offer strategies for coalition building.
Hands-On Science. Users can access some 250 Lessons and Experiments (more than 60 developed by CUOS or Reach Out! personnel) for a wide range of subjects and topics. They are classified by subject area; by age and grade; and alphabetically. A new collection of Quick and Easy Activities is designed for science clubs and youth groups who only have 3045 minutes for a hands-on activity; nearly 50 are in development or formatting stages now. The rationale for such activities is that much of today's technical illiteracy is rooted in changes in both the technology surrounding us and in our home life. Fewer of the machines we use are accessible or repairable (they are electronic, versus mechanical), so most of us have no experience in taking things apart and little understanding of how they work. Families are so busy and rushed today that children have much less exposure to cooking, household repair, and making things than was once common. Any hands-on activity, thereforeeven when not coordinated with curricular or testing objectivescan help to fill the experience gap that makes young people feel incompetent or reluctant to do science.
Career Exploration. Career exploration activities are listed in directories by geographical area, alphabetically by presenter's name, and by Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) category. More than 100 individual presentations are listed, plus information on those and hundreds of other career fields, through direct links to the U.S. Department of Labor's OOH Web site. This section also provides Tips for Giving Career Presentations and What to Share in a Presentation, plus links to some excellent career and personal planning information for kindergarten through the early stages of scientific and engineering careers.
The Tours directory lists some 60 tours of businesses, laboratories, and other work places, and provides Tips for Tour Presenters. The Job Shadowing directory offers 25 opportunities, as well as Tips for Job Shadow Providers. We have heard from school personnel in several area districts that these resources are being used in School-to-Work programs. A new section on College Planning links to other Web sites where one can search by name, location, or program for just the right higher education choice.
Because all career exploration resources are set up so that users can contact providers directly, we cannot track their exploitation beyond the occasional anecdotal response. One such response will illustrate the gratification both users and providers receive. A UNIX system administrator here at the University of Michigan told of feedback he received from the parent of a job shadower from a rural town some distance from Ann Arbor: "He was enthralled with the experience, and his enthusiasm from [it] has been incalculable.... A three-page paper regarding" it was entered in a local newspaper contest and unanimously won the first, hundred-dollar prize. The conclusion of this paper was "I'm grateful that I got this experience and will consider what I have learned heavily in my decisions for college." The presenter, in turn, sent an e-mail account of this response to everyone at his lab, noting that it is "reaffirming that our tours and other public events really do make an impact on young students for the better."
Learning Help links and organizes enrichment and training activities and programs for adults and children. Tutoring/Mentor Programs lists tutoring sites and learning centers in Detroit (2), Pontiac (1), and Washtenaw County (5)both as resources for parents and students and to show potential volunteers where they might work. It also includes a Tutor Information Guide and Tutor and Science Club Information Guide. The Workshops link lists 12 area organizations that offer a constantly changing menu of classes and activities, including parks, museums, and observatories. Science Camps has information on a changing array of about a dozen summer camping experiences, from science to computers to music technology. The Science Clubs link lists Pointers and Guidelines for starting your own such club, plus information on science clubs we organize locally that anyone can participate in as volunteers. Finally, a Career Club link provides a Career Club Guide that assists organizations and individuals in forming clubs at schools and community sites to help young people to systematically explore their options.
Who We Are introduces our hundreds of partners by stakeholder group (with links to the resources they provide), defines the Coalition and its objectives, and describes how others might replicate this model elsewhere.
CUOS has made many efforts to increase awareness of and access to its resources so that information can reach its target audiences. The Web site is registered with search services and is coded with keywords to respond to relevant searches. The site is specifically listed by other broader-based general and K12 Web sites, including NSF Teacher Links, UM's Community Assistance Directory, Huron Valley Community Network K12 Education Resources, Merit Network, Wayne County [Michigan] RESA Educational Sites, Through the Web With an Educator's Eye, Eisenhower National Clearinghouse Lessons and ActivitiesScience, EE Link Regional Environmental Education Resources & K12 Education Resources, the Michigan Electronic Library, and the Internet Public Library Science Fair Project Resource Guide.
The Coalition has sought local publicity by means of press releases, contacts within local news media, an open house, mass meetings, and networking with other university outreach groups. In addition, free workshops on using the Internet for instructional purposes are offered to parents, teachers, and community groups, which use the Coalition site as Exhibit A. During the past year, CUOS conducted 15 Web training workshops for 86 participants, mostly educators, at various sites. Much Web training is done one-on-one and in small groups by a program assistant and by our Learning Community Coordinators in Pontiac and Ypsilanti, who have trained another 300 children and adults.
A counter, added to the Web site on October 4, 1996, recorded more than 16,000 "hits" through October 1997. Totals ran about 500 each in the early months, jumping two-to-three times higher after the Eisenhower Clearinghouse featured it as one of their Digital Dozen in March 1997. Current figures show more than 1000 hits per week. Feedback through our Guestbook and e-mail show about equal usage by children, parents or grandparents, and educational staffwith particularly heavy response from teacher education students. Responses indicate that not only are the resources being accessed and read, but also that they are used. Messages include thanks and praise, along with suggestions for improvements, requests for more information, and pleas for help with schoolwork.
An unexpected side effect of the Web site has been its assistance to us in recruiting partners. We cannot estimate the importance of it, but believe that many individuals, community groups, and small businesses may have been convinced to offer career exploration resources partly because we could offer them a presence on the Web.
|1998 Progress Report|
|A. The Problem|
|B. The Solution|
|A. Organization and Management|
|B. Systemic Initiatives to Build School-Centered Learning Communities|
|C. Coalition Web Site|
|D. Reach Out! Student Organization|
|E. Math-Science Tutor/Mentoring Programs|
|F. Science Outreach Programs|
|G. Coalition Building and Stakeholder Development|
|Appendix A: Coalition Partners List|
|Appendix B: Web-Site Home Page|