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Science Center Builds Web Lessons

February 13, 2006
By JIM FARRELL, Courant Staff Writer

Jane Callery, a science teacher at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, said she is looking forward to bringing her students to the new science center that is scheduled to open in Hartford's Adriaen's Landing in two years.

In the meantime, though, Callery said she is excited that her students will have the chance to use the Internet to access lessons tied to the actual construction of the $150 million building.

"I think it's great that the kids can see science in action in the real world," Callery said Friday, a day after she demonstrated the science center's inaugural online lesson to some of her seventh-graders.

The lessons are being developed as a partnership between the AT&T Foundation and the Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration.

Representatives of both institutions were at Two Rivers Thursday, as were a group of politicians and other officials.

"America is losing its competitive advantage over other countries because we are substantially lacking scientists and engineers," said state Sen. Thomas Gaffey, co-chairman of the legislature's education committee, in a press release. He said groups involved in the online initiative are "committed to being a part of the solution and are helping to bridge the gap."

State Sen. John Fonfara, co-chairman of the legislature's energy and technology committee, agreed.

"As our world continues to flatten, it is imperative that technology and education come together in the classroom if we are to continue to be competitive," he said in a press release.

Construction of the science center began almost four months ago and camera crews have been videotaping much of the work for use with the Web-based lessons.

The video students saw Thursday had images of backhoes excavating the site interspersed with diagrams that explain how leverage is needed to move heavy objects.

After watching the video on a classroom smart board, students were given blocks and wedges for a hands-on lesson about fulcrum principles.

The students had been learning about levers for a few days leading up to the demonstration, and the online dimension was welcome, Callery said.

"I see this as a very important tool in the teaching profession," she said.

Officials say the lessons are aligned with state guidelines and thus will help students prepare for the science exam that will be part of the Connecticut Mastery Test starting in 2008.

After the center opens, officials say, the website will be used to offer lessons that will supplement classroom visits.

The site also has a database that is designed to help teachers develop and share lesson plans, learn about enrichment opportunities and plan trips to other science organizations and museums.

The lessons are part of the AT&T Learning Connection and are funded by a $500,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation.

The website for Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration is www.ctcse.org.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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