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Welcome to the community!


"Creating Student Scientists, not just science students."

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About the Pathfinder Science Community

Pathfinder Science cultivates and celebrates the intellectual, imaginative and humanitarian promise of every learner. Pathfinder Science is a virtual community that practices mutual respect, embraces diversity, and inspires a passion for learning about the material world through science. This Collaborative Research community grew from an attempt to fulfill the vision of national efforts to reform science and technology education.

The National Science Education Standards (NRC), the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS) and Kansas Science Education Standards, all call for "Science for All Americans" and "doing science". Although simple in concept, these two phrases constitute a significant change in the way science is taught. More specifically, the Standards documents call for placing an emphasis on the classroom environment by choosing worthwhile scientific tasks, facilitating classroom discourse, and recognizing a need to increase knowledge and beliefs about science.

Research indicates that; using "hands-on, minds-on" activities, investigating a few questions in depth, connecting school science with the everyday world of the student, and allowing students to share and test ideas with their peers are indicators of effective science teaching. The PFS community is creating a research environment in which teachers have the necessary tools, and students can help construct this type of learning environment. Using a collaborative research community that includes researchers, community mentors, teachers, and students. Pathfinder Science uses technology to facilitate the implementation of these standards-based teaching principles. The Internet and various technologies create a learning community that transcends geographic barriers and allows collaboration throughout the nation on meaningful research.

The research community building process began in October of 1997 supported by a U.S. Department of Education, Technology Innovation Challenge grant as the Kansas Collaborative Research Network. This international collaboration began working together to create an international research community that demonstrates that doing science is a better way of learning science.

Pathfinder Science was "born" in August of 2002 at the end of the grant funding cycle. The participating teachers have greatly extended the original research concept. It now includes new research areas that involve Mathematics and the Social Sciences. The addition of new projects in these discipline areas has greatly extended the reach of the Pathfinder Science school-based science research model. By August of 2002, teachers and students from 21 countries have joined this community which now involves over 1000 registered classrooms. The community has many participants who have not registered their classrooms to contribute data, but are using Pathfinder Science materials for information, discussion and student research. Recent server statistics indicate that there are 20, 770 average requests per day for Pathfinder Science pages. This is compared to the report in 1998 of 1,157 per day. The community has shown rapid growth in registrations and participation since it went online in October of 1997.

The Pathfinder Science community uses technology to facilitate communication between the participants through the Pathfinder Science web site http://pathfinderscience.net. The web site includes threaded discussion areas, organizing protocols, data submission, retrieval from interactive databases, background information on the research areas and a publication area for students to submit their own research work. In addition several active listservs for the teachers and project special interest groups have been established to assist communication.

Many teachers begin their participation in Pathfinder Science by "lurking" on the listserv, following the messages, and developing ideas. Data collection for the various projects also occurs with the assistance of technology. This includes the use of probeware, digital cameras, sound capture, data entry and a centralized database. The data is analyzed with tools that include Geographic Information Systems, Systems Modeling technologies, spreadsheets and statistical applications. The web site also allows the publication, discussion, and evaluation of student research work. Improved web design and better interactivity with the databases has made a dramatic improvement communication occurring through the web. The discussion of the research activity leads to the interaction of science research with social science problem-solving methodology. Theses discussion occur online and at a research congress held in the spring. In the discussions and at the conference, student research activity is followed by the development of an action plan based on the research data. The goal is to develop decision-makers that know how to act on information, rather than just activists.

An important component to fulfilling the vision of Pathfinder Science has been the professional development and support of teachers involved in the project. Pathfinder Science approaches professional development from three areas of implementation. These three areas are technology skills, science content knowledge, and pedagogy - the implementation of a research-based classroom. Pathfinder Science is using several models of professional development that include immersing teachers in a research environment, short technology skill sessions, project development, school year long project development classes, presentations, and involving teachers and students working in common sessions to acquire new skills and knowledge.

Thanks for your interest in Pathfinder Science and I hope you will join us in this exciting adventure.

© 1996-2004 PathFinder Science