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Pine Cobble Teacher Awarded Toshiba America Grant

(PRWEB) February 15, 2006 -- Science teacher Stephen Stroud received a Science and Math Improvement Grant from the New York City foundation in the amount of $990 to be used for the Pine Cobble School
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's annual spring "Kids' Inquiry Conference." According to the foundation's mission statement the grant, "contributes to the quality of science and math education
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 in the U.S. by investing in projects designed by classroom teachers to improve instruction for students in grades K-12."

 “  This year will feature three types of student presentations.  
Pine Cobble's third annual "Kids Inquiry Conference," to be held on Wednesday, March 15, is modeled after professional science conferences, making it quite different from the traditional school
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 science fair. The presentation-style event will feature multiple presentations done concurrently throughout the school, allowing the audience to choose to attend according to their interest.

Stroud, who designed the conference, said, "This year will feature three types of student presentations. In the first, the students will describe the story of their experiment, show their data and host a Q & A session for the attendees. In the second style, which will be a 20 minute workshop, the experiment will have been done before the conference and repeated on site with audience participation. The final presentation type will feature five or six hands-on demonstrations in one room, in which the audience can participate and move from one experiment to the next. Subjects like electrical currents and structural engineering are typically presented here.

"Past year's presentations covered a broad range of topics," said Stroud. "They included types of rockets, the effect of music on plants, the monitoring of three different compost piles, wing shapes and how they affect flight and the cleanliness of varying water sources in our area."

Stroud credits the inspiration for the conference to the book, Nurturing Inquiry, by Charles Pearce, a 5th grade Maryland teacher. Since its inception, in which Pine Cobble students were the sole presenters, the conference has grown with students (grades four through eight) from seven area schools presenting this year. The schools scheduled to present are: Fayerweather Street School, Cambridge; Conte Middle School, North Adams; Clarksburg Elementary School; Hancock Elementary School; Williamstown Elementary and Hiland Hall School, Bennington, Vermont. Although the presentation agenda is set for this year, other area schools are invited to attend as audience members.

In addition to the conference presentations, each year a professional scientist is invited to address the students and visitors at the conference. This year's featured speaker will be Gwen Elphick, Ph.D. who is doing post-doctoral studies in neuroimmunology at Brown University.

The $990 grant has already been put to productive use. Stroud purchased three different data loggers - sensitive probes which measure results. He said, "The kids can use them for better, more effective data collection and analysis."

As for future conferences, the teacher would love to see them grow beyond Pine Cobble, with other area schools hosting each year. For information: Stephen Stroud, Pine Cobble School, 413-458-4680.


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