Abstract— Researchers from three universities worked with multiple 6-12 grade teachers from 2013 to 2015to engage them and their students in developing science projects and learning applied science concepts. These projects focused on integrated pest management (IPM) and chemical use reduction (CUR) in the home. The objectives of the program consisted of increasing awareness about IPM and CUR, and promoted inquiry based leaning, while employing a new model of engagement in the classroom (i.e., liberating structures). Arm 1 of the program first engaged a large group of teachers (i.e., 75) in two-day trainings. A selected group of trained teachers then joined with researchers and trained graduate students to actively engage their 6-12 grade students in the classroom. Arm 2 involved the development and implementation of a more focused 10-day IPM and CUR curriculum to be used in the classroom, along with a 4-hr online training for teachers designed to facilitate its implementation. In an effort to create a balanced and comprehensive experience for those who participated, researchers from graduate science and communication, and K-12 STEM programs composed the project team. This article reports on the methodologies employed, experiences and overall metrics of the program. Recommendations are given to improve the process and the results based on participant experiences. Useful information is provided for those in the field planning to better engage the community and in particular 6-12 grade students in science and health education. Curriculum and other materials (i.e., brochures) are available at no cost online in English and Spanish.
Keywords— Liberating Structures (LS), Science Education, K-12 Science, Integrated Pest management (IPM), Chemical Use Reduction (CUR), Community Outreach.
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