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Toyota grant will fund new technologies in state classrooms

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 23 - March 5, 1998

A $200,000 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation will help Virginia's teachers integrate new technologies into their math and science courses, through Virginia Tech's Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom.
The Toyota USA Foundation presented the grant in conjunction with the institute's state-wide Teaching Inquiry with the Latest Technology (TILT) conference in February at the Hotel Roanoke. The grant presentation preceded the conference keynote address by Robert C. Anderson of NASA's Mars Pathfinder Project, who talked about how new technologies can bring the 3-D "virtual field trip" to Mars to the classroom.
"Tech's Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom is a perfect example of how higher education, K-12 public education, and the private sector can work together to establish innovative programs in our schools," said William E. Pauli, national manager of the Toyota USA Foundation. The Toyota USA Foundation is a charitable endowment dedicated to supporting innovative, hands-on educational programs for K-12 schools, with a special emphasis on math and science. "The goal of the Toyota USA Foundation is to build bridges to better education, and to provide today's children with a brighter tomorrow," Pauli said. Pauli presented the check to Janet M. Johnson, dean of the College of Human Resources and Education, before an audience of about 500 teachers from throughout Virginia.
The Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom, coordinated by Joy E. Colbert through the College of Human Resources and Education, is a confederation of laboratories, centers, and sponsored research projects from seven colleges at Virginia Tech. Through the institute, educators have direct access to Virginia Tech research in science, mathematics, and teaching technologies. Many Virginia Tech faculty members made presentations and conducted workshops at the TILT conference. Among them, Ron Kander on materials science; Ruth Alscher, Susan Eriksson, and Katherine Cennamo on the SAGE (Science and Gender Equity) project; Carl Pfeiffer on bio-medical science pathology; Gail Hunger on mathematics instruction; Ron Kriz on the CAVE virtual environment; Glen Holmes and Joyce Williams-Green on web-based learning environments; and Art Buikema on a high-school and college biology collaboration.
With the Toyota USA Foundation funding, the institute's TILT program will allow teachers from each of Virginia's eight regional Governor's Schools for Science, Mathematics, and Technology to collaborate with Virginia Tech faculty in "translating" current university research into innovative curriculum for middle- and high-school math and science programs. Sixteen hands-on, real-world activity modules will be developed with input from university professors, teachers, and students. Following field testing and evaluation, the modules will be disseminated throughout Virginia's 135 school districts to reach more than 18,000 teachers and 450,000 middle- and high-school students.
"With new teaching and learning technologies, we have the tools to transcend traditional impediments of time and geographic location, and work together in ways never before possible," Johnson said. "Virginia Tech serves as a testbed for a wide range of research projects that have tremendous potential for impacting education in science, mathematics, and technology. Now, with the support of the Toyota USA Foundation, we can make critical links to K-12 educators to provide a seamless, meaningful educational experience for Virginia's youth."
With the TILT grant, the Toyota USA Foundation joins other distinguished sponsors in the support of the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom. Last summer, Bell Atlantic announced its support of an institute initiative to help school leaders select and manage new classroom technologies. The institute was founded in 1996 with the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
For more information about Virginia Tech's Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom, visit the Institute's web site at www.g3.net/institute/ or contact Executive Director Colbert at 1-5467; fax: 1-3717, or e-mail: colbertj@vt.edu.