Since receiving the award in Fall 2009, faculty and graduate students from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Neuroscience Program have developed and run the two-week long professional development institute focusing on integrating current neuroscience research into secondary science curriculum and providing relevant classroom materials and lesson plans for secondary science teachers to incorporate novel concepts into the high school science classroom.
This year, ten teachers from six school districts from across the state of Illinois traveled to the University of Illinois to learn new areas of neuroscience research and science education. During the two-week institute, participating teachers reviewed curriculum units focusing on the science of circadian rhythms and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each unit consists of 7-8 lessons that collectively address key science concepts using the context of circadian rhythm or traumatic brain injury research. Each lesson can be used as either an individual instructional tool or as part of a larger unit resource that addressed the driving question of the respective unit in depth depending on the needs of the teacher. Project NEURON graduate and undergraduate fellows from the College of Education, the Neuroscience Program, and other University of Illinois graduate programs developed the units during the 2010-11 school year for use during the 2011 NTI. Each fellow led activities from both the circadian and TBI units to the visiting secondary teachers. Discussions of each lesson between the teachers and Project NEURON members help focus unit revisions and future unit development.Teachers will use Project NEURON materials in AP Biology, Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Environmental Science, and even Physics classes.