Thursday, August 16, 2007

Program brings high-tech labs to students statewide

Science teacher Carolyn Nevin looks over instruments delivered to a Southside High School classroom by Science in Motion. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

The bottles of shampoo and household cleaners lining the shelves in a third-floor stockroom at Jacksonville State University aren’t there because Janet Evans is a clean freak.

Evans, for 17 years a science teacher at Jacksonville High School and now the biology specialist for Alabama Science in Motion at JSU, will use those products in science labs at area high schools.

“We extract strawberry DNA from the shampoo,” she said.

Doing so requires equipment that most high schools can’t afford. Creating instructional labs, as Evans does, also takes time that many classroom teachers don’t have.

That’s where the Alabama Science in Motion program comes in.

Created in 1994, ASIM was based on a program in Pennsylvania that brought science teachers and laboratory equipment to schools. Then-state Sen. W. Fred Horn, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation to bring the program to Alabama, which became the first statewide Science in Motion program in the nation.

“It was designed to help many rural areas, to bring them up-to-date and to prepare their students for higher education,” Horn said in a telephone interview.

JSU is one of 11 universities around the state providing space and administering the regional program as part of its in-service department. In 2002, ASIM was rolled into the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), which includes programs at the elementary and middle schools.

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