To train teachers in the public elementary schools of the District of Columbia to align science, mathematics, and technology instruction with national standards, and integrate creative, interactive activities into their classroom curriculum to improve overall student achievement.
CASE evolved from a free Saturday science school called "First Light" that was started in 1989 by Dr. Maxine Singer, President of the . It was designed to give neighborhood children in the city's public schools a chance to have fun exploring science and their environments.
A few years after "" began, teachers and principals noticed the impact it was having on students: They were better at problem solving, their language skills improved, and they enjoyed learning. Community leaders approached the Carnegie Institution, a nonprofit scientific research and educational organization founded in 1902 by Andrew Carnegie, and urged it to expand the program by training teachers throughout the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Since its inception, CASE has provided science and math training to some 800 teachers in more than half of the city's 104 elementary schools. The program's overall goal is to train all pre-kindergarten through sixth grade teachers citywide in order to transform a low performing school system into one that is a source of community pride.
CASE provides training — with graduate school credits available for teacher trainees — in science, mathematics, and technology education. Some 280 pre-kindergarten through sixth grade public elementary school teachers enroll annually. The organization has expanded its program offerings from a single six-week Summer Science Institute for 75 teachers to include summer institutes for science, math, and technology, as well as a yearlong series of courses in all three.
The Summer Institutes expose teachers to new ways of teaching math and science using current software and materials. Teachers spend their days engaged in the same activities their students will experience, including the challenge of building a bridge, testing Washington's drinking water, analyzing the properties of fabrics, and building wind-powered land racers.
The organization also offers programs for outstanding CASE graduates who become mentor teachers; model schools that receive additional curriculum materials and workshops; and summer interns from high schools and colleges. In addition, CASE is involved in a systemic educational reform project called DC ACTS along with the and the DC public school system.
Materials developed by CASE have gained a reputation for quality and creativity. As a result, CASE staff members are increasingly asked to design content for educational projects sponsored by national organizations such as , the , the , and the .
These projects include: the that helps teachers, students, and the public explore the science of Astrobiology; a poster about deep ocean microbes for distribution to some 17,000 teachers in the National Science Teachers Association's fall issue of Science Scope; a simulation project for students studying NASA's Messenger Mission to Mercury; and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Family Backpack Project for early childhood classrooms.
Visitors to the CASE Web site can learn about the program's history, view the , and experience a day at the Summer Science Institute. Since CASE shares space on the Carnegie Institution's site, visitors can also explore the latest science news at CIW's , , in California and Chile, , and .
CASE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that receives 70 percent of its funding from a National Science Foundation grant that ends in June 2003. A campaign is currently underway to diversify the program's funding sources to prepare for financial independence. To accomplish this goal, CASE must raise $750,000 from foundations, corporations, and individuals interested in improving the quality of science, mathematics, and technology education in the nation's capital.