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Video: New STEM Teachers Learn at the Museum

As part of an Education Week Teacher special report on ways to support new teachers, published this week, our video team headed out to see a program for first- and second-year science educators held at San Francisco's hallowed Exploratorium. 

The museum's induction program, which teachers participate in over two years, "is likely the first and longest-running science-specific initiative of its kind," writes my colleague Kate Stolzfus in the accompanying article. It began in 1998, though the museum as a whole has been providing resources for teachers for more than 30 years. 

The video shows the kind of hands-on, inquiry-based activities the 50 teachers in the program experience, and hopefully bring back to their classrooms. 

The program is funded by a mix of public and private sources, and all teachers attend for free. There's some evidence it may be helping fend off science-teacher attrition—a recent survey found that 9 out of 10 program participants stay in the classroom for at least five years. 

As I've written before, many museums and science centers view the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards—which 18 states, including California, have now adopted—as an opportunity to offer more professional development for teachers. 

For many teachers, museums represent a sort of safe space for learning because they have no ties to evaluations and don't have to abide by district and state policy constraints. A 2014 study of the museum-based professional-development program at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago showed such programs have promise for improving both teacher content knowledge and student achievement as well.

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