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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Bringing the Physical Sciences into the Preschool Classroom: Balancing Content Knowledge, Inquiry Skills, and Pedagogy

Presenters:
Nancy Clark-Chiarelli, Education Development Center, Inc.
Jess Gropen, Education Development Center, Inc.

Abstract: Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is pleased to introduce its Teacher Quality Goal 2 project, Assessing the Potential Impact of a Professional Development Program in Science on Head Start Teachers and Children. Foundations has two main components: 1) instructional sessions that are delivered face-to-face and build teachers' pedagogical content knowledge in the physical sciences; and 2) a mentoring component that supports teachers as they master science content and inquiry-based methods. Foundations addresses the critical need for empirical evidence on effective strategies to improve preschool science instruction, especially for the growing population of English language learners and low-income children who demonstrate lower levels of science proficiency than their peers. Our presentation will focus on a small-scale pilot of Foundations with 18 teachers from the Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association, a mixed Head Start/Child Care program in Rhode Island which serves primarily low-income families and enrolls a significant number of English language learners. Data will be presented on the development and pilot testing of the professional development program, including baseline data on teachers' understanding of science concepts and preliminary indicators of the program's effectiveness. In addition, we will present information on the development of new instruments to assess teachers' pedagogical content knowledge and preschoolers' science achievement.