We consider the Bugscope project to have been successful during its first year of operation. Students and teachers had the opportunity to mail in specimens of insects and other arthropods, and then study the high magnification images of these specimens on the microscope, which they remotely controlled from their school computers at a scheduled date and time. The images they acquired were their own authentic data, including irregularities and surprises. Like scientists, they had to first propose a project to request the use of an expensive scientific instrument. Like scientists, they were responsible for planning an experiment and then making efficient and good use of the time that they were allocated on the instrument to gather data. Like scientists, they had an infrastructure of people and technology to assist them. Bugscope thus served the purpose of stimulating an interest in the scientific research enterprise to students and teachers across the nation.
The conclusions from the project include:
Bugscope could possibly serve as an education and training model for other projects that involve remote access to scientific instruments.
The suggestions from the project for outreach to K-12 classrooms include:
During the first year, only one application was received (and selected) for professional development program for K-12 teachers. The teacher who led the inservice training for a group of 14 teachers (11 females, 3 males) from a public school district in an urban community in Oregon wanted to introduce Bugscope as part of her workshop on technology integration.
It would be great if, during the inservice, [the teachers] actually had the opportunity to use Bugscope. By actually getting to use Bugscope, I believe that they will be more likely to submit a proposal to use it in their classroom(s).
The lead teacher thought that the Bugscope session was very useful to her inservice teachers, and towards the end of the session, she suggested in the chat with the operations team that there will be "4-5 applications for using Bugscope" from these teachers. Such remote inservice sessions will help to prepare and support teachers in their efforts to explore integration of emerging educational technologies for learning, teaching, and research in their classrooms. Thus, one of the possible future directions ahead for the project may be to encourage and solicit applications for inservice training.
Another possible future direction may be to encourage preservice teacher participation. Only a small number of teachers (15%, N=34) who participated in the project during the first year indicated that they had preservice teachers in their classrooms. Recent reports, such as those from the National Science Foundation (NSF, 1996) and the National Science Board (NSB, 1999) highlight the importance of improving future teacher preparation, especially through the use of information technology (e.g., NSF, 1998). Thus, the project may also have to encourage and solicit applications from preservice teachers, either as part of their undergraduate coursework or classroom student teaching.
We are continuing to assess the overall impact of the Bugscope project. For example, how does Bugscope change the way students and teachers relate to classroom learning? As the project grows and develops further, there will be other directions to pursue. The project will continue to provide students and teachers across the nation with access to an infrastructure of people and technology to carry out their own scientific investigations.