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CSI Program Has Begun Recruiting Teachers and Students for Second Year of Grant Project


JONESBORO -- Scientific inquiry and practical learning that closely involves teachers and students are central to an innovative program at Arkansas State University. Within the context of forensic science, the “CSI: Classroom Student Investigations” program is now recruiting for its second year, having finished its first with great success.

The program is now recruiting teachers and students for the 2013 summer institutes: the teacher institute takes place June 10-21, and the student institute follows on June 19-20.

Last summer’s participation of 25 teachers from Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri, along with 66 students from Arkansas and Tennessee, was made possible with funding received from the National Science Foundation for a project known as ITEST (Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers).

The program was developed Dr. Karen Yanowitz, principal investigator, of the Department of Psychology and Counseling; Dr. Ann Ross, co-principal investigator, of the Department of Teacher Education, and Dr. Tanja McKay, co-principal investigator, of the Department of Biological Sciences. Many other faculty members from both the College of Education and the College of Sciences and Mathematics also contributed expertise to the project.

According to Dr. Yanowitz, the CSI program focuses on high-needs school districts and aims to improve science education for students by equipping teachers with practical skills and educational resources they can use to set up inquiry-based forensic science instruction in their classrooms.

During the first week of the institute, teachers learned a variety of “real life” forensic science techniques, such as robotics, microbiology, forensic entomology, DNA blood typing, and how to analyze trace evidence. In the second week, teachers designed their own lesson plans based on what they learned the first week.

“The teachers then used their lesson plans to teach students how to use the same crime solving techniques,” Yanowitz continued. “Teachers and students had a great time at the program.”

One of the participating teachers was particularly enthused about her experience at the institute.

“The amount of content broken down for me to reuse in my classroom is invaluable. I love new ideas and approaches,” she said. “Each year I find that students learn individually and what works for one group of kids may not work for another. Therefore it is always great to have an array of ideas and options.”

One of the participating students recalled, “The part of this program that I liked best was the fact that we actually got to combine science and work with fun and excitement. After all the hard work, I’m happy to say that I would very much enjoy returning if I got the chance.”

A key component of this program is continued support for the teachers during the academic year. Almost all of the teachers reported using information they learned in the summer to enhance their own classrooms.

“For instance, since completing the 2012 CSI Camp, one of the teacher participants has started a robotics team at her school. By November, she took her team to the B.E.S.T. Robotics Competition at Fort Smith,” Dr. Yanowitz continued. “After attending a grant writing class at our fall follow-up event, another teacher participant wrote and received a ‘Donors Choose’ grant.”

For more information about the program, interested teachers or students may call the Project Manager, Renee Carroll, at (501) 492-9274, e-mail csi_science2@yahoo.com, visit the website http://altweb.astate.edu/csiscience, or “like” the project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ASUCSI. The application for this year’s institute is on the website. The deadline for applying is April 1, 2013.

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Shatavia Robinson
Shatavia Robinson
Teacher Participant, 2012

Olivia Huey
Olivia Huey
Student Participant, 2012

Wendy Jones
Wendy Jones
Teacher Participant, 2012