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"Teaching the teachers." (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 19 May 97 08:48:30 -0700
From: Jerry Morse <jmorse@slate.Mines.EDU>
To: Bernard Cohen <blc+@pitt.edu>
Subject: "Teaching the teachers."

Dear Bernie,
I for one welcomed your well-written article in April's Nuclear News. 
After "giving up" on explaining the radiation issue to the general 
public, we at Mines have been attempting to reach middle school students 
-- and their teachers -- by doing the following.

Under Colorado Health Department and EPA sponsorship, we have developed
a 2-3 week curiculum explaining natural radiation to students at the 
middle school level across the state.
Now in its fourth year, the program endeavors to train middle school
teachers with science backgrounds to teach the course to grade 7-10
students. The module combines lectures with "hands on" training making
extensive use of a kit containing a GM counter, alpha, beta and gamma
sources, shielding materials, a cloud chamber, samples of common
minerals, fertilizer, a radium dial watch, piece of Fiesta Ware
ceramics, etc. Kits are borrowed from the Colo School of Mines while the
module is being taught.
Teacher training requires one week; student training is at the teacher's
discretion, usually 2-3 weeks. 
Feedback strongly indicates the course has been well-received by
teachers, students, and even the latter's parents who occasionally call 
teachers to tell them their kids do a far better job explaining radiation 
than do the media!
We doubt seriously that any of our trainees would panic on finding a
"hot" rock in their midst as was done recently in NJ..
Our sponsors are considering extending the program beyond the state's 
borders, but are uncertain as best to do it.
I hope your NN article has a strong positive effect on the public.
Jerry Morse, Physics Dept.