What is U-FUTuRES?
Through this innovative program, University of Florida education researchers are leading a $5 million effort, funded by the National Science Foundation, to transform how science is taught in Florida’s middle schools – especially high-poverty schools. The researchers have created a Science Teachers Leadership Institute to prepare cadres of highly trained science teacher leaders at middle schools around the state who can educate and energize other teachers in their home districts with a new kind of science.
Science teachers from partnering school districts are enrolled in an on-the-job graduate degree program—blending online and on-site instruction by UF professors—that deepens their science content knowledge and prepares them to become master teachers, teacher-leaders and teacher-researchers. Teachers can immediately apply what they learn and assess the impact of their new teaching practices on their students’ progress.
At the core of U-FUTuRES is a powerful, reform-based curriculum called IQWST (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology), which gives students much more hands-on exposure to science and reinforces concepts as students advance from grade to grade. The curriculum design has students conducting daily investigations of science phenomena, learning how to use scientific reasoning to support their claims, while advancing their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Lynda Hayes (principal investigator), director, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, and affiliate faculty member, UF College of Education
Rose Pringle, (co-investigator), associate professor, science education, UF College of Education
Teacher Leadership and School Improvement degree program
- The IQWST middle school curriculum used in the program has been developed and tested over 10 years at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.
- Participating teachers are enrolled in a job-embedded graduate degree program at UF called Teacher Leadership and School Improvement (TLSI), with a focus on science education. TLSI has won the Association of Teacher Educators’ coveted Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award.
- P.K. Yonge, the College of Education’s K-12 laboratory school, has been a testing and demonstration site for the new curriculum since 2011. The school has seen a marked increase in student scores on Florida’s required, eighth-grade standardized science exam since implementing the new curriculum.