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For release: July 17, 2008

Adah Leshem-Ackerman, ACTS, 515-294-8453
Steve Karsjen, Ames Laboratory Education Programs, 515-294-5643


Educators to complete eight-week hands-on science internship

AMES, Iowa - The U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory is making science exciting this summer for eight science teachers from middle schools across the Midwest.  These dedicated and motivated teachers are participating in their second year of the Laboratory's Academies Creating Teacher Scientists, or ACTS, program.  ACTS began on June 23 and runs through July 25, 2008.  This year the teachers had the added bonus of visiting both the DOE's Argonne and Fermi national laboratories, where they toured facilities and met with scientists and teachers participating in the ACTS program in Illinois.

The ACTS program is sponsored by DOE's Office of Science.  ACTS is a professional development opportunity that caters to the needs of middle school science teachers. The overarching theme of the ACTS program is the physical environment and how knowledge of physical and earth sciences can be used for its benefit. Teachers are trained to impart the wonders and complexities of scientific discovery to the next generation of students while preparing them for the challenges involved in decision-making as members of a technological society.

During the first part of the program, teachers attended content driven lectures and activities.  Following that they began working with Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University scientist mentors on projects in research laboratories.  The teachers have been working on and observing cutting-edge research projects with their mentors with the goal of experiencing the excitement of "hands-on" scientific inquiry, which they will be able to share with their students in their classrooms.

"The DOE's investment in teacher professional development reflects the current need for improvement in STEM K-12 education." said Adah Leshem-Ackerman, ACTS coordinator, "Every science teacher can greatly benefit from the opportunity of experiencing bona fide scientific research in order to better understand the nature of science. These types of professional development programs can only help teachers perform better in their classrooms."

The eight teachers in the 2008 ACTS program are: (front row,
l-r) Daniel Andrews, Ames Middle School, Ames, Iowa; Margaret Sue Hicks, Eisenhower Middle School, Topeka, Kan.; Sharon Andrews, Challenge Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Ginny Elliott, South Tama Community Middle School, Toledo, Iowa; (back row, l-r) Rayford Sims, Maxfield Elementary School, St. Paul, Minn.; Charles Velasquez, Mulberry Elementary, Muscatine, Iowa; Dennis Vaughn, Baxter Community School, Baxter, Iowa; and Kecia Goodman, South Hamilton Community School District, Jewell, Iowa.

This year's ACTS mentors include: Cynthia Jenks, assistant director for Scientific Planning, Ames Laboratory, and scientist, Materials Chemistry and Biomolecular Materials program, Ames Lab; Surya Mallapragada, program director, Materials

Chemistry and Biomolecular Materials program, Ames Laboratory and professor, chemical and biological engineering, ISU; William McCallum, scientist, Materials and Engineering Physics program, Ames Laboratory and adjunct professor, materials science and engineering, ISU; and Aaron Sadow, associate scientist, Chemical and Biological Sciences program, Ames Laboratory, and assistant professor, chemistry, ISU.

Educating the next generation of the scientists and engineers is a critical part of the Ames Laboratory's mission, according to Steve Karsjen, education director for the Laboratory.  "This program is a perfect example of how committed our scientists are to helping teachers understand and experience the excitement of science," Karsjen said. 

For more information on the ACTS program go to:  For information on other Ames Laboratory Education programs go to:

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. The Lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including the synthesis and study of new materials, energy resources, high-speed computer design, and environmental cleanup and restoration .