STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM NEW FORM OF PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN SCHOOLS AND BUSINESS
The Kiski School
Ask a parent what he or she thinks about corporate support for schools, and you may get an earnest denunciation of soft drink machines in school cafeterias and television commercials beamed into classrooms. People are concerned that letting big business into the education system means treating children as a captive audience of little consumers.
But a new form of mutually beneficial partnership between secondary schools and businesses puts corporate technology and financial might to work for students without turning the classroom into an emporium. Like universities, high schools and even middle schools are beginning to engage in sophisticated public-private research and development projects without forfeiting their independence.
In these R&D partnerships, teachers help businesses design educational products. Businesses offer schools cutting-edge equipment for the classroom without taking over the classroom. And students get a better education without absorbing all the costs of the improvements.
For example, Texas Instruments, the well-known maker of electronic calculators, software and other technology products, has a thriving R&D program with schools. The company and participating teachers pool their experience and expertise to create new educational products based on TIs technology. The company also supports a program through which the teachers who helped develop the products instruct other teachers across the country on their use. Faculty at the Kiski School, where I teach math, have worked with TI as both research consultants and instructors.
Kiski School faculty helped TI develop the calculator-based laboratory or CBLa data collection device consisting of a calculator that can be used with hundreds of different probes, such as a motion detector, barometer, pH sensor, light meter and many others. The CBL is a powerful tool that enables students to gather empirical data outside the classroom and increases the range and sophistication of the experiments they can conduct in chemistry, physics and math.
Kiski tested the CBL and wrote an activity book detailing its educational uses. Kiski continues to assist TI in developing new educational applications for the CBL, which is proving to be an enormously versatile scientific device. In return, the Kiski School has received a substantial quantity of free CBL units and related equipment from TI, which has enriched the educational experience of our students.
TIs instructional workshops for other teachers help them incorporate its CBL technology into their classrooms. High school and middle school teachers attend these summer classes across the countryColorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, etc. Workshop locations have ranged from Newark, New Jersey, to Greenwich, Connecticut. For example, Ive given more than 100 workshops over the past decade, including a week-long seminar for Pittsburgh public school teachers a few years ago.
The teachers who attend the TI workshops learn how to use the CBL and incorporate it into their lesson plans. There are also courses on the general use of educational technology to make science and math courses more engaging and participatory for students from kindergarten through college.
The new partnerships between schools and businesses focus on educating, not promoting or consuming. Students from all over the United States and from right here in Pittsburgh benefit from these partnerships. And teachers gain valuable teaching equipment and training without selling their souls.