A program being offered through the Lynch School of Education is helping a group of science teachers from underserved Boston-area schools improve their craft and transform their students’ science education experience.

Last year, the Lynch School was awarded a $27,000 grant by the Jhumki Basu Foundation to host and support its 2017-18 Sci-Ed Innovators Fellowship, a nine-month-long teacher education program. Through the program, which began in August, 14 Greater Boston-area teachers examine their practice and adopt an innovative learning-community model to use in their classrooms.

The foundation is named for the late Jhumki Basu, a New York University professor who advocated equity in science education, particularly in urban schools. Established by her parents Radha and Dipak Basu, the California-based JBF seeks to democratize the teaching of science to those students who attend under-resourced schools with significantly fewer opportunities to learn than their more advantaged peers.

Science and mathematics achievement gaps along racial, ethnic, linguistic and socioeconomic lines have widened substantially over the past 20 years, notes a recent National Science Foundation-funded report from the National Research Council of the National Academies. However, when students from non-mainstream backgrounds receive equitable learning opportunities, they are capable of attaining science outcomes comparable to their mainstream peers.

The initial cycle of eight six-hour Sci-Ed Workshops takes place on Saturdays, and is conducted by three Boston-based lead teachers under the supervision of a teacher trained in Jhumki Basu’s “Democratic STEM Teaching Framework.”  The fellows then present and publish a brief digital story – or WIC (Windows into the Classroom) – recounting their experience. The cycle is then repeated in the spring and concludes with a Sci-Ed Innovators Expo & Symposium staged in early summer.

“We believe this is a very important mission, and a promising partnership with prospects for growth and expansion,” said Jim Slotta, Lynch School associate dean for research.  “In addition to hosting, we serve as an academic partner, with the aim of fostering research on the teacher-learning communities and democracy education.”

Phil Gloudemans | University Communications