Building a generation of scientific thinkers: RIC/URI host science education roundtable

On Oct. 13 RITES (Rhode Island Technology Enhanced Science) Project – a partnership between Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island – will hold a Science Education Roundtable from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences at URI. This conference is open to science educators throughout the state.

The keynote will be given by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler at 9 a.m., a veteran schoolteacher, leader of progressive reform in Seattle public schools and nationally recognized author of Writing in Science and Writing in Science in Action. Her keynote showcases a successful Rhode Island science education school.

The remainder of the morning consists of workshops focused on meeting the challenges of science education, examining models of success and looking at how these models inform the actions of educators. Lunch will be provided.

Launched four years ago, RITES’s mission is to expand K-12 teacher knowledge of science and to provide strategies for incorporating hands-on science into the curriculum. The project is the result of a 12.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation.

Rhode Island school teachers who join the RITES project receive two years of professional development; a $1,000 stipend for participating each year; three graduate credits; and the use of free online modules to use with their students. The modules are created by pairings of college faculty with K–12 teachers.

“The pairings is really the core of the program,” said Howard Dooley, who manages the RITES project. “Faculty members bring the science knowledge and teachers bring the pedagogical knowledge. Together they create an investigation that is technically accurate, interesting to the students and based on science standards.”

Teachers also receive $700 in technology equipment. “The ‘T’ in RITES stands for technology,” said Dooley. “We know that technology is not used in the classroom as much as it should be, and that’s partly because teachers and students don’t understand how certain technologies can be incorporated in the classroom. But technology is used by scientists every day. So part of our job is providing support directly to school districts to make sure the technology works and teachers are comfortable using it.”

To date, RITES has assisted 450 middle school and high school teachers in 27 school districts in Rhode Island.

To learn more about the RITES project or to attend the roundtable event, visit or contact Amber Gilfert at 401-874-4071.