Partners







Fellow & Teacher Spotlight


School Spotlight

  Current LEEFS Teachers
Samantha Adams

Teaching Description
I teach Earth and Environmental Science to eleventh and twelfth grade students at the Heritage School, a neighborhood high school in Spanish Harlem. My Earth Science course is an inquiry-based, Regents preparatory course that examines Earth science processes. My Environmental Science course is an inquiry-based course that examines the interactions of the natural world, with particular attention paid to human interactions and their impact.

LEEFS Motivation
I wanted to become part of the LEEFS program because I believe that every student should gain a basic understanding of the nature of science before they graduate from high school. I also believe that facilitating that understanding requires inquiry and experimentation; having a working scientist in the classroom gives students a tangible way to experience both.

Collaboration Highlight
My LEEFS Fellow is Adriana Garriga-Lopez, whose research focuses on HIV/AIDS and related issues. The issues surrounding HIV/AIDS are of particular interest to me as well, having spent two years in southern Africa serving as a Community HIV/AIDS Education Peace Corps Volunteer. Adriana and I both agreed that giving our students the opportunity to learn more about the disease would be extremely beneficial. We conducted HIV/AIDS question-and-answer sessions in all five of my classes, all of which generated interesting discussions.


Contact:
samanthajadams@hotmail.com

School:
The Heritage School

Collaborating Fellow:
2009-2010: Adriana Garriga-Lopez
2010-2011: John Templeton

Links
Earth Science Website
Environmental Science Website

Isabel Azcona

Teaching Description
My teaching philosophy is the same every year for every student - to make learning come alive, to instill the love of life-long learning, to stir curiosity about their world, to dig deeper using different sets of knowledge/skills, and to encourage them to pursue a career in science. I'm honored to collaborate with NSF Fellows for they help me do all of the above and more - push critical thinking skills, provide a real world context to everyday science instruction and inspire my students to be successful.

Collaboration Highlights
In my first year of the NSF GK-12 program, I worked with both Jeffrey Lancaster and Adrianna Garriga-Lopez. As a chemist and social scientist, they provided a unique perspective to every unit topic, definitely enriching the current 8th grade NYC science curriculum. The highlight for me was collaborating with them for MS 88's Integrated Projects week (IPW). In our Sunset Park Fall IPW, Jeffrey and Adrianna taught special workshops on community mapping and survey development. In our H2 to Izz-O Spring IPW, the students learned the unique properties of water and its usage by ancient civilizations. During our brainstorming sessions, synergy was in the air - where the curriculum, fellows' research expertise, and student interests were integrated.

This year, I work with Michelle Brown, who amazingly every week connects every unit topic to her research on monkeys. In September, my students witnessed the scientific method in action when Michelle shared the different components of her research from question, fieldwork design to data collection and analysis. They loved the binoculars and PDA! During the Force and Motion unit, Michelle taught my students the usefulness of Excel to calculate force, speed and acceleration. During our Winter IPW, Who's Smarter than an 8th grader? Michelle helped differentiate science instruction and helped students fine-tune their PowerPoint skills for the creation of the game show. I'm looking forward for my students to learn more about primates when we plan for the Genetics and Evolution unit!


Contact:
iazcona927@yahoo.com

School:
Middle School 88, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2009: Adriana Garriga-Lopez
2008: Jeffrey Lancaster
2009-2011: Michelle Brown

Annie Blomberg

Teaching Description
I teach 6th grade science and social studies at MS247: The Dual Language Middle School.

LEEFS Motivation
I applied to be a part of LEEFS because I wanted my students to have more access to real science - I wanted to expose them to what science can be and what doors science can open for them. I also wanted to improve my own knowledge of the content I teach so I can continually give them context and reason for what they learn. Working with LEEFS has given me a community of science education that I am very grateful for and that I believe has directly impacted my students achievement.

Collaboration Highlight
My students love having Ms. Tillinger in the classroom - they recognize her as "the scientist." When I reflect on all Ms. T has done with my students and me the biggest highlight is definitely the first annual science fair that our school hosted last Spring. The other science teacher and I had never put on a science fair before and the whole process was organized chaos. Ms. Tillinger worked tirelessly with our students, motivating them and guiding them on their independent projects. The final product - the science fair - was something our students and we were really proud of and I wouldn't have been able to do it without Ms. Tillinger.


Contact:
a.e.blomberg@gmail.com

School:
Dual Language Middle School, Manhattan, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2010: Debra Tillinger
2010-2011: Meghan McGinty

Links
Collaboration Website

Lauren Brooks

Teaching Description
I teach 7th and 8th grade science at Dual Language Middle School. My students are all bilingual and many are still considered English Language Learners. The school community is very close as there are only a total of 180 students in all three grades.

LEEFS Motivation
After being a double science major in college I was initially interested in providing my students with a deeper understanding and application of science than they have gotten in the past. Through the LEEFS program I saw the opportunity to blend advanced research science with the most fundamental levels of science currently being taught in middle schools. Additionally, science isn't an area of study that many people see as a career opportunity outside of being a doctor or veterinarian. Through LEEFS I wanted to expose students to other opportunities for careers in the scientific field.

Collaboration Highlight
The past few weeks students completed science fair projects. Ms. T (Debra) came to school daily the week before the projects were due and provided a ton of support and guidance to the students. Ms. T helped organize the judging and brought in 8 other scientists to judge the projects. Her dedication was relentless during the process and as a result the students produced wonderful projects. The science fair would not have been possible without her.


Contact:
lbrooks2@gmail.com

School:
Dual Language Middle School, Manhattan, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2010: Debra Tillinger
2010-2011: Meghan McGinty

Links
Collaboration Website

Sarah Gribbin

Teaching Description
I teach Chemistry to a mix of sophomores, juniors, and seniors at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. Harbor is currently located in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and will be moving to Governor's Island in 2010. The Regents preparatory course relies heavily on inquiry taught through lab activities.

LEEFS Motivation
I wanted to be a part of the LEEFS program because it provides a connection to higher academia that I want my students to experience. It also gives students the opportunity to make a connection between what they are learning and current research. Having a chemistry expert in the classroom every week is an invaluable resource for getting students to use higher-order thinking skills and hands-on experience.

Collaboration Highlight
I am working with Ellane Park whose "cool chemistry" research will be a great addition to several topics in the chemistry curriculum. Her presence in the classroom has increased student engagement and understanding of the lab activities that we do. She has also provided amazing resources for our labs, making them more valuable to the students. One of the great experiences so far has been watching 28 students intently observe gas discharge tubes in a darkened room with 3-D glasses on. It was a priceless moment made possible by my collaboration with Ellane and LEEFS.


Contact:
sarah.gribbin@gmail.com

School:
The Harbor School, Brooklyn, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2009-2011: Ellane Park

Cristi Lagos

Teaching Description
I currently teach 7th grade science at Middle School 88 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The spiral curriculum includes four separate units: Geology, Chemistry, Human Biology, and Dynamic Equilibrium in Other Organsims. My graduate fellow partner, Jeffrey Lancaster, is a Chemistry PhD student.

LEEFS Motivation
I was originally interested in joining LEEFS because I wanted to bring more technology and real world research connections into the classroom. Although I work hard to provide my students with solid inquiry-based instruction, I felt the influence of a graduate fellow along with classroom resources provided by the LEEFS grant had the potential to take my classroom science instruction to a whole new level. Moreover, I have a strong desire to provide my students with rich experiences so they enjoy science class and have the tools they need to pursue a future STEMS careers.

Collaboration Highlight
The highlight of the year for me was attending the NSF GK-12 conference in Washington DC, because I was able to see stellar examples of established GK-12 partnerships. I learned so much from the talks and poster presentations and was motivated to continue planning more innovative GK-12 collaborations with my graduate fellow partner. The first year of this program was a success, but the instructional strategies and student experiences we have in the works for the upcoming years are sure to have a greater impact on student motivation and success. This year students had the opportunity to build chemical models, were exposed to the tools of a real chemistry lab, used more multimedia presentations including interactive tutorials and flash animations, and took part in field experiences at the American Museum of Natural History.


Contact:
cristilagos@gmail.com

School:
Middle School 88, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2010: Jeffrey Lancaster
2010-2011: Christine Vanos

Michael Seymour

Teaching Description
I will be teaching 7th grade math at M.S. 88 this year. I work with three classes ranging in ability, all of which will be benefitted by the LEEFS program.

LEEFS Motivation
My initial interest in joining the LEEFS team was facilitated through M.S. 88's principal, Ailene Mitchell. The school's attention paid to community outreach and involvement in curriculum enrichment are a perfect match for my drive to include environmentally-aware, socially-significant contemporary research in mathematics instruction.

Collaboration Highlight
Our work with the LEEFS team has lead us to refine curriculum in a manner that has supported the development of student understanding of current research in biology and physics, in an environment where we are supported by an outstanding team of researchers. Andrew Mugler and I have made advances in instructional planning where contemporary issues in biological modeling permeate the inquiry-based lessons of a 7th grade math class. Presenting our work to a group of NSF GK-12 participants and collaborators in Washington, DC was certainly an exciting highlight of our work. We look forward to continuing our work together and will continue to share our progress in advancing the inclusion of university research topics in middle school environments.


Contact:
seymourmichael@gmail.com

School:
Middle School 88, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2010: Andrew Mugler
2010-2011: Elizabeth Pierce

Links
Collaboration Website

Susan Vincent

Teaching Description
I teach 10th grade Regents Earth Science and a 12th grade elective course, Marine Science. I entered the teaching profession late in life with a mission to infuse my students with passion for environmental awareness and activism. The best way to spark student's curiosity and engagement is to take them out into the natural environment to observe and explore. The senior level course allows complete flexibility to take the students into the field, whereas Earth Science offers limited opportunity due to the time constraints imposed by preparation for the Regent's examination. In Marine Science, we launch a wetlands unit of study each September with a canoe exploration of Piermont Marsh. I began collaborating Dr. Robert Newton in the summer of 2005 to create a wetlands research investigation at Piermont Marsh. The marsh serves as an outdoor laboratory, providing opportunity for students to stretch far beyond the limits of their urban environment and experience the rewards and challenges of hands-on scientific investigation. The marsh investigation continues in the summer with a 6-week intensive field studies course. An overview of the program is available at: www.ldeo.columbia.edu/SSFRP/.

LEEFS Motivation
I was interested in joining the LEEFS team to bring a new dimension to my science classes and expand opportunities for my students to interact with working scientists. Such interactions create in students a sense of possibility for science careers in their future. Teaching in an inner city, minority girls' school, it has been of great value to have a female graduate student, Nadine Els, as role model for my students.

Collaboration Highlight
Nadine Els has worked closely with Marine Science students and our science fair competitors. Last year Nadine served as mentor and science advisor for 15 Young Science Achievers (YSA) in several projects such as Hydrology of Piermont Marsh, Ocean Acidification, The Effect of Plastic Ingestion on Marine Animals, and Kudzu Eradication. One of the teams won honorable mention at the YSA competition. Another highlight of last year was a spring break research trip to southern Louisiana where Nadine helped 9 students conduct wetland research projects. She continued to work with students through the summer in Piermont Marsh. This year Nadine will again work with YSA competitors with the goal of injecting greater scientific rigor in the marsh projects.


Contact:
vincent.susan@gmail.com

School:
The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem

Collaborating Fellow:
2008-2010: Nadine Els
2010-2011: Kat Allen