What is the GK-12 Program?

The GK-12 Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), puts Harvard graduate students to work in the Cambridge Public School System. The Division of Engineering and Applied Science (DEAS) has been awarded fellowships from the NSF for Ph.D. students who are committed to working with science teachers and students in the Cambridge Public School System.

Harvard University is entering the 2004-05 academic year with ten Graduate Fellows. The Fellows have been paired with teachers in Cambridge Rindge and Latin (the local public high school) and, with their partner teachers, are currently working on curricular activity development, laboratory development, and teacher and student support and enrichment. The fellows work with high school students of all ages and grade levels in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer Science.

Principal Investigators: Professor John W. Hutchinson, Professor Eric Mazur, Dean Venky Narayanamurti
Teacher Coordinator: Maureen Havern
Program Coordinator: Dr. Kathryn Hollar
School: Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, Cambridge, MA
Subject areas: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics

Our Approach

How are the Graduate Fellows Involved?

  • Curriculum reform and re-design
  • In-class support and enrichment for students
  • Creating extra-credit opportunities as a way to further challenge and engage the more advanced students
  • Incorporating technology in the classroom
  • Science Fair Help Center
  • Organizing field trips to Harvard and helping with field trips

How are the Graduate Fellows and Teachers Organized?

  • Our fellows and teachers have formed teams to tackle a particular subject areas: physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science. Fellows often collaborate across these disciplines to develop activities.
  • This teaming of fellows and teachers has enabled the fellows to be involved in a wide array of activities that impact a large number of students (not just a particular class)

    What do teachers and Fellows say about their experience?

  • It rejuvenates my interest in all the latest advances that are being made. Without this outside stimulation it's easy to fall into a very set way of doing things. It makes science exciting.

  • It makes me happy that the kids are excited when I come to class--it makes me more optimistic about my studies' being interesting to people in general. The program also gives me a chance to learn more about applications of physics, since the students have more contact with technology and everyday nature than with the more abstract and specialized things that most graduate students work on. This is giving me a chance to do a little bit of experimental physics--like learning how a radio works. Also the requirement of explaining things to people without a background in physics forces me to organize my thoughts and look at things with more of a perspective, so that I am getting a better view of physics as a whole.
  • I feel that my fellow cares about her work with the kids . . . The fellows are willing to go into the "trenches" with the teachers and stick it out.
  • [One of the best outcomes] is the amazingly close relationship that the students have with my Fellow and his impact as a connection to a world of scientific research that both the students and myself would never have had the opportunity to experience if he had not come to our class.
  • My presence gave my partner teacher a resource for understanding new technologies in my field of study (wireless communications). This was particularly useful since my partner teacher participated in a government-sponsored project involving wind turbines, in which students each built working turbines used to charge batteries. My electrical engineering background gave my partner teacher a resource to discuss the logistics of this project that would otherwise not be available to her.

    Who is eligible to participate?

    Currently we have graduate fellows from DEAS and the Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics departments. Fellows must be graduate students in DEAS or the Departments of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Chemical Biology, or Physics. Fellows are selected based on their academic records, their interest in education issues, and their previous experience in education. Fellows must be U.S citizens or permanent residents, and willing to commit to GK-12 for at least two years.

We are grateful for the support of the National Science Foundation through grant #0086387.