UH Moment: "STEP Program"

How do you create a systemic change in science education?  One STEP at a time.  Listen to this week's UH Moment. 

"You hear people who say 'I'm a math person' or 'I'm a language arts person'; there aren't many elementary teachers who say 'I'm a science person.'"

University of Houston's College of Education Professor Wallace Dominey wants elementary science teachers to feel empowered and enlightened when they teach.  He'd like their students to feel inspired.  But how do elementary science teachers get to that place if their training is incomplete.  

UH Science Teaching Equity Project Logo

"I thought it would be interesting if I could begin training teachers or provide them with enhancements in how well they understood science and how to teach science, and that's what I did," Dominey said.  He created the STEP program—Science Teaching Equity Project—that provides training, classroom materials, technology such as iPads and support for elementary science teachers in Houston.  

"We believe the best way to teach science is hands on inquiry based methods, and that's how we teach," he said.  "It's the same way we want our teachers to teach."

Andrew Kapral is the STEP program director.

"This is not a program where teachers come for one Saturday or for even a couple of sessions and then are done," he said. "Our teachers get approximately 100 hours of professional development over the course of the academic year so you can really see growth over that period of time."

To date, thousands of Houston teachers have STEPped up.

"One of our goals to build a program that is a service to the city, but also provides a way of thinking of what can be done across the country," Kapral said.

"Science is a way of thinking and if the children aren't taught that way of thinking they'll be much less critical in understanding how the world works," Dominey said.

The STEP program is part of what's happening at the University of Houston.  I'm Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.