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High school teachers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts will be implementing a new, reform-based chemistry curriculum in their classrooms this year with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Teacher teams from ten school districts attended professional development workshops at the East Bay Education Collaborative (EBEC) in Warren, RI on October 28-29, 2019. The ONR grant paid for six complete lab stations for participating districts, and included student books, lab manuals, probe ware, digital tools and other resources needed to implement the program, valued at more than $130,000. This year’s group of teachers is the second of three cohorts supported by the grant.

The program, A Natural Approach to Chemistry, was developed by faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is published by Lab-Aids. It uses examples based on the chemistry of the human body and natural world as an engaging context for developing student understanding of basic chemical concepts and lab skills.  The probeware contains a built-in spectrophotometer, temperature and voltage probes, plus a control point heater that safely heats water and other liquids without the need for gas Bunsen burners, and fume hoods, which are expensive and can cause safety hazards in the classroom.  The program uses up to 60 lab activities to introduce key chemistry concepts – and features innovative uses of the probeware, for example to measure pH using the spectrophotometer, and to determine the optimum temperature for yeast growth as a way of studying reaction kinetics.

“Lab-Aids worked with the program authors to develop and field test the Natural Approach curriculum here in the Providence area more than ten years ago.  They are a great partner and the program was very well received by the teachers,” said Dr. Kathyrn Eller, Director of Client Services at EBEC, noting that teachers said the training "helped them consider more connections with STEM,” “was of the highest quality and very engaging, and “helped them develop new understandings in their content area.”  Stephanie Brunnett, Sales Operations Manager for Lab-Aids, was a big supporter of the effort. “EBEC has long been a trusted name in science education in the New England area,” she said. “And we are delighted to continue our partnership with them as they find grant funding opportunities like the ONR grant to help teachers get better at what they do.”

The following is a list of participating districts and teachers.

District

High School

State

Fall River Public Schools

Argosy Collegiate Charter High School

MA

Coventry Public Schools

Coventry High School

RI

Cranston Public Schools

Cranston East High School

RI

East Greenwich Public Schools

East Greenwich High

RI

Johnston Public Schools

Johnston High School

RI

Narragansett Public Schools

Narragansett High School

RI

North Kingstown Public Schools

North Kingstown High

RI

Scituate Public Schools

Scituate High School

RI

Thompson Public Schools

Tourtellotte Memorial High School

CT

Tiverton Public Schools

Tiverton High School

RI