by: Douglas Spencer, Ph.D., Lorin Graham, and Victoria Angelottie
Edited by: Fred Conner
eduinc, Fort Myers, Fl
are two components to the In-Touch Science program: (1) use
of ITS activities with children and (2) training of adult leaders
who train other adults how to use ITS with children. Below are
findings from seven areas of research.
continue to use ITS with children
research clearly shows continued national use of ITS with children
by adults who attended ITS training. Such evidence is despite
the fact that much of ITSís use is ìoff the radarî and difficult
who attended ITS training are using ITS with children both outside
of school and in the classroom. Interviewees said that linking
ITS activities with national science standards would be a good
way to promote classroom use of ITS programs and materials.
the trainer works for one generation but needs regional leadership
appears that ITS-trained adults do not continue to train other
adults. Interviews with regional leaders indicate that the adults
they train in mini-grant-funded training use the curriculum
with children, but do not train other adults in how to use ITS
train-the-trainer program has benefited from the mini-grant
program but does not formally persist beyond the second generation
of trainers. The program lacks leadership at the regional level.
Several people said that the mini-grant needs stronger marketing
than now exists to alert others to the availability of funds
for training. Several stressed that without continued support
from the ITS office, training of adults will not continue.
ITS website is well perceived by users, but under used.
ITS website (www.intouch.cornell.edu) received good reviews
from users but nevertheless receives limited traffic. In a web-based
evaluation survey, 40 out of 41 people said the site was easy
to use. ìHintsî was the most popular website area.
logs show that the site is an underused asset. Between July
2002 and March 2003, an average of just four people per day
visited the site. A majority stayed for a minute or less, accessing
only the home page. A second group stayed for three to five
minutes, and the smallest group of users stayed longer than
five minutes, some up to 20 minutes.
site has considerable potential to sustain the ITS program.
It requires a web team and budget to conduct audience research
and to market and update the site.
of supplies continue to be an issue
lack of time and money needed to purchase supplies remains an
issue for ITS users. Keeping the cost of ITS materials low (and
identifying alternative sources for supplies such as gel and
charcoal) could promote the use of ITS.
kits available for purchase was less successful than a promotion
offering free supplies. A summer 2002 promotion offering free
supplies was an effective catalyst that encouraged the use of
ITS with kids.
have not purchased the ITS curriculum
of sales records from the Cornell Resource Center showed that,
of 251 ITS buyers from 20 states, only five individuals bought
the ITS curriculum. The majority of purchasers were cooperative-extension
offices, universities, offices at Cornell, and 4H-related organizations.
among individuals who attend ITS training is a barrier to use.
indicate that those who replace ITS users often do not continue
using ITS. High turnover and promotion, especially among cooperative-extension
agents, was an issue noted in a 2002 ITS evaluation study. Interviewees
said that this issue persists today.
Science is potentially an asset to economically challenged areas.
of the database showed that a significant percentage of ITS
trainees live and work in economically challenged areas. Interviews
with leaders in Arkansas indicate that, with proper support,
ITS appears to have potential as a low-cost curriculum for use
in economically challenged rural areas. An ITS partnership with
Girls, Inc., and the use of ITS by a 4H program in south central
Los Angeles also show the potential of ITS in economically challenged
primary recommendation is that the Cornell team articulate a
clear plan to determine the desired life cycle of the curriculum.
research shows that attention to these eight areas will help
sustain the curriculum:
steady support services at a level the Cornell team can maintain,
the purpose of and properly fund the ITS website,
to current users,
regional training of adult trainers, especially in low-income
easy availability and affordability of materials and supplies,
the risk and return of making the curriculum materials available
activities to national science education standards if the
team wants to strengthen existing use of ITS in public schools,
continuing funding ranging from modest grants for specific
projects to joint funding with other national providers of
informal science curricula.