Since 1991, the Science Education Partnership has helped foster partnerships between research scientists and over 300 secondary school science teachers in Washington State. Through workshops and a science mentor program, teachers learn laboratory research and current topics and techniques in biology, and scientists hone their teaching skills and learn more about how science is taught in middle and high school classrooms.
The mentorship program is unique in that the partner scientists are directly involved in setting up the partnerships. Each spring, each participating scientist selects a teacher to work with from the applicant pool and the two work together to design a research experience that is mutually satisfying and tailored to the individual interests of the teacher.
This arrangement often leads to lasting partnerships that extend beyond the summer session to include classroom visits by scientists during the school year. Perhaps more importantly, these partnerships have helped to dispel some of the common stereotypes that each group perceives about the other. The diversity of research projects over the past several years has been enormous and has included such topics as protein structure, DNA sequencing, yeast genetics, fruit fly development, and oncogenes.