February 19, 2003

NSF Increases Funds For Science Teachers

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The Cornell Scientific Inquiry Partnerships (CSIP), a program that provides funding for graduate students in the field of science to teach in public schools across the United States, has recently been awarded $1.5 million by the National Science Foundation to continue its work for another three years.

The program began in 2000, and enables graduate students at Cornell to teach and create their own lesson plans that are implemented in local schools. Graduate students participating in this program receive free Cornell tuition, an annual stipend of $21,500, as well as health insurance. This remains the only program on Cornell’s campus to fully support graduate students who teach outside the university.

CSIP is an expansion of its predecessor, the Cornell Environmental Inquiry Research Partnership (CEIRP).


Up to now, CSIP has largely focused on environmental science, however this spring CSIP plans to open program funds to graduate students in other fields of science.

“[The program] provides a venue for grad students to learn a great deal about teaching. The grad students are designing their own lesson plans. The program also provides a unique opportunity for independent, critical thinking,” said Marianne Krasny ’74, professor of joint resources and joint principal investigator on the NSF grant

Graduate students are not the only ones who benefit from the program, Krasny said. “Many schools have said that the most important benefit from having Cornell students in their classrooms is that they receive young and motivated individuals who are passionate about science. Another benefit is that some teachers have wanted to do more small research projects and the fellows have helped them to feel more comfortable about with attempting them.”

The CEIRP program was one of the 31 graduate teaching programs originally funded by the National Science Foundation.

Recent CSIP sponsored projects have included a study of nutrient cycling, energy flows, and sustainable agriculture conducted with Ithaca’s Alternative Community School. The students constructed aquatic ecosystems that included nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The students at Mynderse Academy in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and under the supervision of a CSIP fellow are also investigating environmental as well as other effects caused by a nearby landfill.

Nancy Trautmann ’80, Cornell Center for the Environment and joint principal investigator on the NSF grant, feels the program is important because, “It brings alot of exciting science into the school and it gets the students excited about concepts they probably would have never been exposed to.”

Archived article by Cassandra Wilson