ISU Headlines

College of Education faculty attend National Science Foundation training

Posted October 21, 2008

Shelly Counsell, Ph.D., and Sally Peña, Ph.D., of the Idaho State University College of Education, were invited to participate as training facilitators in the University of Northern Iowa’s Early Childhood National Science Foundation Project, “Ramps and Pathways: A Constructivist Approach to Teaching Physical Science.”

The “Ramps and Pathways” module is designed to increase young children’s physics knowledge and understanding in grades pre-kindergarten through second grade using a constructivist approach to learning and instruction.

Counsell and Peña are in the ISU College of Education’s Early Childhood Education and Intervention Program Area, Department of Educational Foundations, College of Education at Idaho State University

ISU’s Early Childhood Partnership School, under the guidance of Peña, the school’s director, has been a nationally recognized early childhood program since 1990.  The school includes infant, toddler, preschool and K-2 classrooms that integrate current research in the field of early childhood education with constructivist methodologies and best practices using developmentally appropriate instruction and curriculum.

The school provides quality care and early enrichment for young children as well as important practicum experiences that prepare future early childhood educators to understand and meet the needs of the full continuum of learners, as required by the Idaho Early Childhood Blended Certificate. The “Ramps and Pathways” physics module reflects the same constructivist beliefs and practice employed by the school. The school’s two preschool classes and the K-2 class are participating in the study.

Counsell and Peña attended a weeklong facilitator’s training workshop in Birmingham, Ala., with facilitators from Alabama and Texas in July. Counsell and Peña also conducted a weeklong teacher-training workshop for pre-kindergarten through second-grade teachers from the Pocatello area and Boise in August on the ISU campus.

Monthly meetings are designed to support the teacher participants’ efforts as they integrate the ramps and pathways into their science curriculum. The materials and activities enable young children to actively explore, investigate, and experiment with physics concepts and relationships. Idaho teachers and facilitators will have the unique opportunity to share their ideas and teaching experiences online with Alabama and Texas teachers and facilitators throughout the 2008-09 school year.