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January 4, 2007
Contact: Wendy Lawton
(401) 863-2476

Collaboration for Education
Brown To Support High School Science Education with NIH Grant

Rhode Island’s high school biology teachers will get intensive training in cutting-edge topics in genetics and neuroscience through a new professional development program created at Brown University. Brown’s program is funded though a new $636,131 grant from the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University has been awarded a three-year, $636,131 grant from the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health, to create a teacher training program that will help bring complex, cutting-edge biology concepts into Rhode Island’s high school classrooms.

The program, called Project ARISE: Advancing Rhode Island Science Education, is timely. Last year, Rhode Island’s Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education approved science standards that all public school students must meet. This spring, Rhode Island students in grades 4, 8 and 11 will take a pilot state assessment on these essential science concepts and skills.

“One of the best ways to help students is to support teachers,” said Brown scientist John Stein. “Our goal is to team with high school biology teachers and help them bring the latest information and equipment into their classrooms. Just as importantly, we’ll help them present lessons in a way that is driven not by rote facts but by compelling questions. Have these corn chips been genetically modified? Why is the volume of air we breathe in not the same as the volume of air we breathe out? This inquiry-based approach is not only a great way to engage kids, it reflects how science is really done in the lab.”

Project ARISE is a cross-disciplinary collaboration that is a hallmark at Brown. The program was created by faculty and staff in three departments: Stein, a lecturer in the Department of Neuroscience; Lawrence Wakeford, director of science education in the Department of Education; and Jennifer Aizenman, a scientist who is currently a curriculum design specialist in the Office of Summer and Continuing Studies. The program will also include graduate students in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, who’ll deliver instruction to high school teachers and assist them in their classrooms.

Linda A. Jzyk, an education specialist for science and technology with the Rhode Island Department of Education, is also a part of the Project ARISE team. Jzyk will help ensure that the lessons that come out of the training program are in line with state science standards.

Project ARISE kicks off in August when 15 high school biology teachers come to campus for a two-week workshop. Brown faculty and graduate students will teach classes that include content from the fields of molecular biology, bioinformatics, neuroscience and physiology as well as discussions about, and demonstrations of, inquiry-based learning. This method of instruction is built on questions that can be answered through research, a method shown to improve student understanding and foster critical thinking. Teachers will leave the workshop with four ready-made unit plans, each containing four to six weeks’ worth of lessons, as well as the information and tools to develop their own inquiry-based lectures and lab experiments.

For the next academic year, teachers will get footlockers filled with sophisticated equipment and supplies – such as gels that separate DNA fragments based on size – for use in their classrooms. Brown graduate students will also be available to help implement these lessons. Every two months, teachers in Project ARISE will return to Brown to share ideas.

At the end of the program, in the spring, teachers and their students will be invited to campus to share results from classroom experiments and independent research projects. The symposium will also include seminars led by Brown biologists.

The grant funds Project ARISE for three years, meaning that as many as 45 Rhode Island teachers will get training and, in turn, teach more than 3,000 students through the program.

Brown is one of 11 colleges and universities to receive a total of $11.5 million in grant funding announced today by the National Center for Research Resources. The grants fund the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Program, which informs the public about health issues, fosters science literacy and encourages students to consider careers in the health sciences.

For information about SEPA, visit For information on Project ARISE, visit

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