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NCSA outreach program seeks to 'revitalise' rural education

Karen Green, public information officer, NCSA
(217) 265-0748; kareng@illinois.edu

10/1/2002


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new program led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Illinois and East Carolina University (ECU) in North Carolina will introduce teachers in rural areas of those states to cutting-edge technologies that can expand the scope of science and mathematics education in
small-town middle and high schools.

Rural Educators using Visualization to Inspire Teacher Advancement and Learning to Improve Science and Mathematics Education (REVITALISE) aims to bring scientific visualization and computational modeling into rural Illinois and North Carolina classrooms in order to stimulate learning, reduce the isolation of rural teachers and students, and improve math and science education. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the project is led in Illinois by NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and in North Carolina by ECU.

REVITALISE seeks four-person teams – including at least one math teacher, one science teacher, and one administrator – to participate in the program. Teaching teams can come from the same school, the same district, or multiple districts. All participants must be teachers or administrators in middle or high school districts in which 50 percent of the residents are classified as rural. There is no cost to teachers, schools, or school districts for participating in REVITALISE. Each teacher will receive a stipend and software to take back to their classroom.

The selected teacher teams will participate in two workshops and a two-week summer institute each year for two years. These programs will help the teams learn to use visualization and modeling software in their science and math curricula.

Teacher teams will collaborate to develop standards-based curriculum and instructional materials and publish them on the Web. They also will have the chance to receive continuing professional development credit or graduate credit for their work.

"One of the bonuses of ever-increasing computer speeds and the Internet is that tools once available only to scientists can now be brought to a typical classroom and used on classroom computers," said Dan Reed, the director of NCSA. "The technologies that REVITALISE will introduce have revolutionized the way scientists conduct research and make discoveries, and they can inspire young students to become the scientific pioneers of the next generation."

REVITALISE also will expand the community of peers and experts in the field that rural teachers work with as they explore and apply new tools and methods in their classes.

"REVITALISE will give teachers a larger group to interact with and to share challenges and approaches with, including scientists in both states," said Scott Lathrop, project manager for Education, Outreach and Training at NCSA and coordinator for the REVITALISE program in Illinois. "The teachers will be actively involved in improving the quality of math and science education in their schools and will develop leadership skills as they share their experiences with fellow teachers, administrators, parents and community members."

Teacher teams can apply to participate in REVITALISE at the program Website: www.eot.org/revitalise. Application forms must be submitted by Oct. 15 for full consideration. The first REVITALISE workshop is set for Dec. 7-8 on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign.

Other organizations supporting REVITALISE through program development, content, and teacher mentors are: Area 4 Learning Technology Center, Rantoul, IL; Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill, NC; the Office for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC; the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at UIC.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a leader in developing and deploying cutting-edge
high-performance computing, networking, and information technologies. NCSA is a partner in the TeraGrid project, a National Science Foundation initiative to build and deploy the world’s largest, fastest, most comprehensive, distributed infrastructure for open scientific research. NCSA also leads the National Computational Science Alliance (Alliance), a partnership to prototype an advanced computational infrastructure for the 21st century. The NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program funds the Alliance. In addition to the NSF, NCSA receives support from the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, private sector partners, and other federal agencies. For more information, see www.ncsa.uiuc.edu.