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Randolph awarded new grant to fund summer teaching institute

Participants in the 2016 Science Teaching Institute learn a creative way to teach earth science students about earthquakes.

Participants in the 2016 Science Teaching Institute learn a creative way to teach earth science students about earthquakes.

Randolph College has been awarded a new $150,000 grant from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to fund its popular summer Science Teaching Institute for the next two years.

The annual weeklong program is open to teachers from Nelson, Campbell, Bedford, and Amherst Counties as well as Lynchburg City and New Vistas School. The 2017 program, scheduled for June 19-23, will have science and math-based activities and materials for 3rd through 8th grade science 9th grade earth science teachers.

SCHEV has sponsored the Science Teaching Institute at Randolph since 2009. Peter Sheldon, a Randolph physics professor and co-director of the institute, said he was pleased that SCHEV continues to recognize the value of the program.

“This kind of professional development for teachers is really important,” Sheldon said. “The teachers give us a lot of feedback telling us that it really impacts what they do in the classroom and that it’s a really valuable experience, so we’re glad to be able to host it and to help improve science education in Lynchburg area schools.”

Peggy Schimmoeller, a Randolph education professor and co-director of the program, noted that there are even more benefits for participants outside of the institute.

“Not only do we provide an intense and rich weeklong institute, we also provide a website where teachers can go to get lesson plans and watch video clips of lesson implementation,” Schimmoeller said. “Each year, we also offer teachers an opportunity to write a proposal for a mini grant of $1,000 to implement an inquiry lesson or hands-on experience in their class.

“The week following the institute we host a weeklong summer science camp at the Jubilee Family Development Center,” Schimmoeller added. “Participant teachers are invited to try out what they’ve learned at this science camp. This community outreach is one way the practices learned are sustained, and connecting practice to student work is key to the success of the Randolph College institute.

The priority deadline to register for the 2017 Science Teaching Institute is March 1. Registration is now open at

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