April 11, 1999

VSU pre-service teachers team up to create 'M.A.D.N.E.S.S.' in area middle schools

This spring semester, 48 Valdosta State University pre-service teachers fanned out into area public schools with paper towels, dump buckets and goggles in hand.

Their mission: to create "Methods to M.A.D.N.E.S.S.," or "Meaningful Activities and Discoveries Naturally Entangled with Science Skills." Since January, groups of four to five VSU pre-service teachers have been teaming up to present science, mathematics and technology lessons at Valdosta Middle School and J.L. Newbern Middle School. Verilette Parker, who oversees the project for VSU's Department of Secondary Education, Curriculum and Instructional Technology, said the effort has been an excellent experience for student teachers and middle school students alike.

"The pre-service teachers float around the classroom and interact with the middle school students in small groups," Parker said. "This type of environment fosters hands-on interaction with the students, and is more comfortable for the student teachers who are stepping into the classroom for the first time."

Parker said the lessons presented by the student teachers were designed to be fun and informative. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders explored topics ranging from the properties of electromagnets to the chemical compositions of average household products. One lesson, titled "Saving Fred the Fish," allowed eighth graders to simulate a polluted water system populated by an imaginary fish. Students studied the effects of water contamination.

"The 'M.A.D.N.E.S.S.' project has been an overall success," Parker said. "The collaborative effort between area public schools and VSU not only provided a valuable field experience for teachers in training, but also gave the middle schoolers unique lessons in science and technology."

Parker said that many of the activities presented by the pre-service teachers are similar to exhibits planned for SCI-FEST '99, scheduled for April 24 in the VSU P.E. Complex on Baytree Road. For more information, call Verilette Parker at 229-333-5927.

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