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Private support needed to send education students to valuable science camp

Private donations of about $1,800 a year are needed to send ten to 15 WSU students to the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science camp. You can give them this education and networking experience through your gift.
Private donations of about $1,800 a year are needed to send ten to 15 WSU students to the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science camp. You can give them this education and networking experience through your gift.

With so much attention given these days to the need to educate more children in science-related fields, it might surprise some people to learn how little science education is provided to aspiring teachers and those already in the classroom.

“Teachers don’t get much of an opportunity for training in science content and pedagogy,” says Mary Robillard, a clinical instructor for the WSU College of Education. “And they don’t have much chance to develop themselves in the classroom because of the emphasis on math and reading.”

That’s one of the main reasons the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science hosts a science camp every spring. The camp is an intensive, hands-on opportunity for teachers and students seeking teaching degrees to learn about Kansas’ science standards and how to integrate them in their classrooms.

Robillard encourages WSU students to attend the two-day camp, held at the Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City. But many are forced to opt out because they can’t afford to attend, she said.

“They can get a scholarship that pays for registration, but they still have to pay for room and board as well as gas to Rock Springs,” Robillard says. “This is a real hardship on students who are trying to pay for their education. Many do not go simply because they can’t afford it. Those who do go, come back inspired to teach science.”

Robillard and other College of Education leaders would like to see a special fund established to help underwrite the KATS experience so that more students will enter classrooms for the first time prepared and excited about teaching science. She estimates it would cost about $1,800 a year to send ten to 15 students to the camp.

That amount may not seem significant to some, but existing spending commitments and tight university budgets make it difficult to find the resources to cover it, says Jessica Treadwell, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Education.

“This is a way for private funds to have a direct and meaningful impact on students about to enter the classroom,” Treadwell says.

Robillard says the camp is valuable not only for the educational experience but also because it gives students a chance to network with others who are passionate about teaching science. “They see teachers who are excited and inspired, and that in turn gets them excited and inspired.”

If you would like to support students who want to attend the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science camp, contact Jessica Treadwell, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Education, at 316-978-6842 or jessica.treadwell@wichita.edu.