Scientist in the Classroom
Research Triangle Park
The Research Triangle Science and Mathematics Partnership (RTSMP) has been making connections between scientists, engineers, health professionals, mathematicians, and science teachers since 1989. The program averages 1,100 classroom visits by science professionals per year in the six school districts of Chatham, Durham, Granville, Orange, and Wake Counties of the Research Triangle of North Carolina. Volunteers in the classrooms help to achieve the partnership’s goal of fostering among students positive perceptions of their abilities in science and mathematics and accurate impressions of scientists, engineers, health professionals and the work they do.
In addition to the classroom activities of the volunteer scientists, success of the program requires administration by others (either volunteers or part-time staff). Two key tasks must be performed: (1) maintaining and searching the volunteer scientist database to find scientists who could answer specific teacher requests; (2) contacting volunteer scientists to determine if they are able to answer a specific teacher request. Other functions that will increase the success of the program would be: marketing the program to teachers, creating additional activities correlated to the local school curriculum requirements, and raising funds to support any staffing requirements and program activities.
Sigma Xi chapters are encouraged to develop similar partnerships in their local areas using the RTSMP as a model. The protocol and tools developed by RTSMP are being made available to assist in the development of these Sigma Xi Partnerships.