Ecologist: Many reasons to keep Fernbank Science Center open

Fernbank costs DeKalb $4.7 million to operate, a luxury the system may no longer be able to afford. (AJC)

Fernbank costs DeKalb $4.7 million to operate, a luxury the system may no longer be able to afford. (AJC)

The AJC is receiving many pleas to save the Fernbank Science Center, which is operated by the cash-strapped DeKalb County School District. Last week,  the school board’s budget committee recommended closing the decades-old institution.

As the AJC reported last week:  Fernbank Science Center, which includes a planetarium, is near the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which is operated by a separate nonprofit. At an annual cost of $4.7 million, the building and its 56 full-time employees now are looking like a luxury to school officials. They are struggling with a $73 million deficit, and may have to cut teachers and school days to balance the budget.

Here is one of the pleas to keep the center open. It is from ecologist Al Tate,  an instructor at the Fernbank Science Center

By Al Tate

There is so much misinformation about Fernbank Science Center appearing on the blogs and elsewhere in the press.  Sure Fernbank Science Center is a neat place to bring your children and learn about nature and science.  However that is only a small part of what Fernbank Science Center is and does.

Fernbank Science Center is an integral part of the DeKalb County School District. Every school day Fernbank Science Center instructors are found in schools throughout the county teaching a wide variety of science topics and supporting the local school curriculum, and every day students arrive at Fernbank Science Center (or a variety of other locations around the county like Stone Mountain, Hidden Acres Nature Preserve, Arabia Mt.) to take classes from instructors, see the planetarium, use scientific equipment.

After school hours, on weekends and through the summer, Fernbank instructors are teaching advanced studies classes in physics, chemistry, ecology, ornithology, helping DeKalb students with competitive science events like Science Olympiad, Science Fair Projects, Robotics, Envirothon (new state champions), and others; visiting teachers across the county helping them with establishing Nature Trails, vegetable gardens, water gardens, wildflower gardens on their campus so there will be resources on site for students to learn science curriculum from the real world instead of just reading a book and taking a test; teaching staff development courses to DeKalb teachers and visiting their classroom, providing them with additional resources and techniques for instruction.

Fernbank Science Center’s Scientific Tools and Techniques program is one of the most innovative and intense science education programs found anywhere for high school students. Students are selected from all schools in the county for this one semester program. Program alumni are always at the top of the charts and  lead the state in their results on the End of Course Tests.

This year, Fernbank Inc. has decided not to renew Fernbank Science Center’s 45 lease on Fernbank Forest, so some people think that Fernbank Science Center will no longer have our forest classes. NOT TRUE!  Working with the DeKalb County Parks and Recreation Department, we have already identified a number of parks around the county where our current forest classes will be taught and instructors will be working through the summer to develop some new classes tailored to take full advantage of the different locations. These will be designed to serve nearby schools so that transportation costs will be minimal.

Fernbank Science Center is funded at $4.7. That is 0.6 percent of the DeKalb school budget. If it gets cut, Fernbank Science Center is gone forever because, once the science center closes the property goes back to Fernbank Inc.

The potential for Fernbank Science Center to help the county obtain funding through grants, partnerships, etc. has barely been tapped. Fernbank Science Center staff is unique: not only are there top quality educators with advanced degrees, but also hard scientists in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, geology, ecology, biology, astronomy, and others. No other school system has such a facility.

What a draw for DeKalb Schools in this era of our national struggle to educate more scientists and engineers.  Instructors/staff at Fernbank Science Center are there because we are passionate about teaching children. We are part of the DCSD family and want to help forge a solution to our budget problems.

Getting rid of Fernbank Science Center will not only hurt the school system.  Potential new DeKalb Citizens will be looking for high quality educational opportunities for their children. Business and industry wants to locate were their employees will find good schools; schools that can produce quality future employees.  We are now in a vicious loop with declining home values reducing the tax base and decimating our school budget. If we don’t make wise decisions about where and how to cut the budget, we will exacerbate the already declining situation with our schools, drive away our new citizen prospects and – worse – damage our children’s future.

Please do not kill the goose that lays  golden eggs.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

147 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:13 pm

Of course, Al Tate wants to keep Fernbank open – he makes $90,000 a year. How many science teachers in DCSD make that kind of money?

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:18 pm

I think all of Al’s arguments have already been debunked on “DSW”.

Entitlement Society

May 29th, 2012
1:20 pm

Yep. Sounds like a nice program, but administrators can’t seem to balance a budget so something’s got to give. A luxurious science program seems ripe for the pickin’! I had to send Kleenex, paper towels, and hand sanitizer with my child the one year he went to APS. Things must be much better in DeKalb if they think they can sustain such a luxury at taxpayers’ expense.

Aquagirl

May 29th, 2012
1:24 pm

Wow, Dunwoody mom….if you’re so bitter about someone with advanced science degrees and 20+ years of experience making $90,000 a year, go back to school yourself. Maybe somebody like Mr. Tate will inspire you. It would certainly be an uphill battle though.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:27 pm

LOL – I’m not bitter. Why is a teacher that touches the lives of very few students DCSD make that much money, while teachers with 30+ students in their classroom don’t come close to making that kind of money.

Would Mr. Tate not willing to take his expertise into a real-life school building?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

FSG

May 29th, 2012
1:40 pm

Unfortunately, this is falling back into a yea or nay decision on a line item, rather than finding a better way to provide science enrichment; and that’s because this has only gone public with a bit over a month before the deadline. Between the calendar fiasco, and this budgeting nonsense, it’s quite clear that the school district is falling into the classic fallacy of leaving their homework to the last minute.

For example – how much of the value given by Mr Tate is dependent on the FSC building? How much of the cost comes from that? Is there a way to deliver 80% of the value for 20% of the cost?

For a science topic, there doesn’t appear to be much experimenting going on.

dubious

May 29th, 2012
1:42 pm

Nearly every activity described in the letter could continue without the need for a stand-alone building and all the administrative and maintenance costs that come with it. No reason why the AP courses or STT couldn’t be run out of an existing high school. If the nature programs are to be run in public parks, why do we need to maintain a planetarium and the science exhibits? Agnes Scott has a planetarium, I’m sure that some sort of arrangement could be reached.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:42 pm

I continue to be amazed at the people who want to save programs that benefit so few students in this school district. DCSD is broke, there are no reserves. Anything and everything that does not benefit EVERY student must take a back seat for the good of all students.

alm

May 29th, 2012
1:45 pm

“The potential for Fernbank Science Center to help the county obtain funding through grants, partnerships, etc. has barely been tapped.”
Why has it been BARELY tapped? They should have many many grants under their belts by this point.

Aquagirl

May 29th, 2012
1:45 pm

Would Mr. Tate not willing(sic) to take his expertise into a real-life school building?

What part of “instructors are found in schools throughout the county teaching” did you not understand?

Maybe English classes should precede any interest you take in science.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:47 pm

@Aquagirl, perhaps you would like to enlighten me as to what schools Mr. Tate and the other instructors have provided their “expertise”? A lot of rhetoric and little data to support your argument.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:50 pm

I’d love to see a schedule of the schools that Fernbank instructors attended, along with their lesson plans. I have asked for this several times – no response. Let me know when this is available and I will gladly provide my email address.

Mountain Man

May 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

So how does Cobb county get along without a Fernbank Science Center? Or any other county, for that matter? If they are using the Fernbank Science Center, then they should pay admission, since they are not supporting it through their taxes.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:53 pm

As many have pointed out, there is nothing, instruction wise, in the Fernbank facility that cannot be moved to the regular school building. STT is a wonderful program from what I have heard. It should be available to more than 180 students per year.

yes i am worried

May 29th, 2012
1:57 pm

I think many of the scientists do work on grants at FSC — their own. In fact, the board would be wise to ask the hard questions about how the staff spends its time and energy.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
1:59 pm

Mr. Tate is listed as Biologist II in DCSD Staff Directory. There is also no teacher certification information for Mr. Tate on the GPSC website. Does he actually teach or is he an administrator?

Citizen

May 29th, 2012
1:59 pm

Dunwoody Mom,

Al Tate touches the lives of many students. His impact way beyond 30 students a semester. He literally teaches hundreds of students from all across the entire county. You speak as if Fernbank programs are not a “real life school building.” On this point you are very confused. Fernbank programs/lessons are rigorous, in depth, classroom/field classes. It seems like you think Fernbank programs are some sort of fluff, but the mission carried out by the instructors on a daily basis is to teach students about science and this is what they tirelessly do day in and day out. If an instructor is not teaching STT (which represents students from every middle school in the county and reflects the racial and socioecomonic demographics across the county), they are out a school. For elementary schools every student in a grade level gets an in depth science lesson from the Fernbank instructor who is at the school that day. For high school students, every class of a particular teacher (up to five full classes) will recieve a full block period of a science lesson. All the Fernbank programs are based on GPS standards and reflect STEM initiative of Race to the Top. Everything is standards based and directly supports instruction. This is only a small piece what Fernbank does.

Teacher Reader

May 29th, 2012
2:01 pm

The media reports that I have seen about Fernbank Science are so skewed. As a district we are facing at least a 73 million deficit this year. The last few years we were also looking at deficits. With each previous deficit regular class size was enlarged and kids and teachers did without.

Last year $50,000 was spent on the entire DeKalb budget for science. I remember watching the board meeting where someone asked if that was for the entire district’s supplies and yes was the answer.

Science enthusiasm begins early, by engaging the children. The science teachers being put back into the regular schools, working with children, exciting teachers, and turning a lack luster district science program would be a better use of funds.

DCSS can no longer be used by adults as a jobs program. We are at a 73 million deficit. Housing prices around Metro Atlanta and the country are not rising!!!!!!! Home values aren’t likely to rise for many, many years, if ever, as its very likely for home values to stay stagnant.

0.6 of one percent from a budget that is facing at least a 73 million dollar short fall, is a lot of money. We need to make severe cuts, so that our children are not placed in even larger classes. We need to make severe cuts, so that we can turn the quality of education around for ALL children and not just those lucky enough to have their name picked for a special program, magnet or theme school and other ways that DeKalb spends more money on one child over another.

Saying that Fernbank is only .6 of one percent of the budget shows that individuals don’t understand budgets, not having enough money to have wants, when needs are suffering. Saying Fernbank is only .6 of one percent of the budget, makes me question Mr. Tate’s intelligence. As we’re not talking five or ten dollars, but MILLIONS of dollars.

The cost of Fernbank is more than salaries. It’s also the transportation costs of busing students back and forth to the center. It’s the upkeep and maintenance of an older building.

For those calling Fernbank a “gem.” Have we been to the same building? Go to Tellus and see a true gem of a science museum. Tellus is a true gem. It has quality exhibits that aren’t decades old.

I really feel that adults are acting like teenagers when it comes to the DeKalb budget. We are in the hole a great deal of money, and no one is really sure how much money we really need to cover the budget. There are no reserves or savings. We are facing two law suits that could cost tax payers even more millions. We have two classes of education in the county. The kids that are able to get chosen for a program and those that are packed into over crowded classrooms in their home schools.

School choice, program choice, any kind of choice is fabulous when the funds are there, but WE ARE BROKE!!!!!!! We can no longer afford these fancy programs that a few kids/families have enjoyed.

Frankly, Dr. Atkinson is a pure disappointment because she is paid a very large salary to make difficult decisions and raising taxes and class size was the easiest decision that she could make and required little thought or planning. Leaders, are supposed to lead. Making difficult decisions, that aren’t going to be popular, and showing the public why this is the best way, is why she is getting paid so much money.

We all need to cowboy up and get over ourselves. ALL of our kids deserve smaller class size and cuts are going to have to be made. We employ more employees in the central office and administration than we truly need. We no longer can afford for some kids to have a more expensive education than others. We can no longer afford to not educate every child to the best of our ability, something that from my vantage point of a former teacher has not happened for some time.

Yes, Mr. Tate, Fernbank Science is something nice to have, so are Acuras, Mercedes, BMWs, and Lexus, but Fernbank Science and along with many other programs are no longer in our budget. I am very sorry if you do not want to go to a general education class, you have the right to look for employment elsewhere, just as the DCSS community has a right to want our tax dollars spent in a more prudent way.

Aquagirl

May 29th, 2012
2:02 pm

perhaps you would like to enlighten me as to what schools Mr. Tate and the other instructors have provided their “expertise”?

“Fernbank Science Center offers science instruction at every grade level at every school in DeKalb County.”
http://fsc.fernbank.edu/factsfigures.htm

I’m really not sure why you’re so hostile towards a facility dedicated to encouraging science Dunwoody Mom. With your obsession toward data, you’re tailor made for a cushy admin job in the central office. Making more than Mr. Tate while working way less should validate your worldview.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
2:03 pm

@Citzen, again, enough, with the PR rhetoric. Please provide me a list of the schools visited with dates and times and classes and lesson plans. This should not be such a difficult thing to do. Unless you can provide some “real” proof of what these instructors do on a daily basis, you have no argument other than the PR spin Marshall and his ilk have provided to you.

OMG

May 29th, 2012
2:07 pm

“Please do not kill the goose that lays golden eggs.”

The only golden egg here is his salary.

Citizen

May 29th, 2012
2:18 pm

This is public record. Instructors at FSC offer a variety of programs at all grade levels to all schools in Dekalb County. Teachers representing the schools, once a semester, schedule Fernbank Programs for their school. Each school gest equal representation in this scheduling process. Every day of the instructors schedule is filled. To simply list all this information would be impossible to do in this forum. All this information is public. I suggest you contact the Director of Fernbank Science Center and make an appointment to look over all this data to address your concerns.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
2:22 pm

@Citizen, to be hones, I would think that those making the argument that Fernbank, the building, stay open would already have that information in hand in order to bolster their argument.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
2:32 pm

The Chattahoochee Nature Center, not only has on-site education programs, it also provides school visits that coincide with the GABOE curriculum requirements. GA Tech has an observatory do they not?

Entitlement Society

May 29th, 2012
2:33 pm

@Teacher Reader – You hit the nail on the head! So what if Mr. Tate says Fernbank is .6% of the budget? $4.7 MILLION is $4.7 MILLION. Obviously a scientist and not an economist. It’s all about priorities. $4.7 million could pay a heck of a lot of teacher salaries (94 @ $50k per year). I’d trade 94 full-time classroom teachers over science enrichment any day. I made it through public school just fine without a Fernbank.

TimeOut

May 29th, 2012
2:34 pm

There are so many other positions and services worthy of consideration for cuts that should precede any of those that provide direct face-to-face instruction. Perhaps the Center should place online it’s calendar of county-wide classroom instruction, indicating schools, instructors, grade levels, and lesson descriptions. It’s not the size of the center’s budget that is of concern. We simply need to cut every service, every position, that does not contribute to daily face-to-face instruction in a measurable way. Then, as our economic situation stabilizes or improves, we can consider what ‘extras’ are now affordable. Science instruction really isn’t an ‘extra.’ If the center truly provides instructors throughout the county for the full calendar year, and that is where 95% of the paid staff spend 95% of their time, then it is money well spent. If the %’s are much lower than that, we need to consider it for the chopping block.

Mom of 3

May 29th, 2012
2:37 pm

Thank you Dunwoody Mom for staying focused on the problem at hand. The budget. I am amazed to see people jumping on the FSC bandwagon, but offering no solutions for the budget problems. The issue is not whether FSC has had any positive effects. It is the budget. Whining and begging to keep it open does not help this situation. I am willing to listen to anyone who can offer a solution for the big picture. (and I hope Ms. Atkinson and the BOE are too)

Dekalbite@aquagirl

May 29th, 2012
2:41 pm

Are you aware that a physics teacher with 30 years of experience and a phD in physics does. Ot make $90,000 a year of the DCSs salary schedule – not even close to that.

See for yourself. Here is the DeKalb Teacher Salary Schedule:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/human-resources/teacher-salary-schedule

C Jae of EAV

May 29th, 2012
2:45 pm

Mr. Tate does point out one very solid contextual point, in face of budget deficit in the tens of millions, the report 4.7 million to keep this particular facility/program is a drop in the bucket. For those stakeholders most directly affected by the choice should think long and hard over the value judgement at play in this instance.

For my thinking, if cutting back this facility/program was the difference between balancing the budget vs not balancing the budget it would be hard choice to contemplate. Given that isn’t the case, I would be more inclined to keep the program (nice to have that it maybe) rather than prematurally drop it in the hopes that other long avoid reforms also happen to bring the budget inline.

Just my two cents…

Flyboy

May 29th, 2012
2:48 pm

If you want to trim budgets, perhaps you should start here rather than elminating actual educational resources.

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/report-dekalb-schools-have-1307169.html

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
2:53 pm

@C Jae, if what the Fernbank instructors provide is so important to the district, then they should be moved into the individual school buildings and not housed in a separate facility away from the students they serve. As has been pointed out several times, there will be enough science teacher openings that all of these individuals, if they are teacher-certified, will have a job. I am sure many parents would love to see their children have the opportunity to take STT, which is now only available for 180 students per year or AP classes that their current schools do not offer.

Maureen Downey

May 29th, 2012
3:05 pm

@To all, I understand a survey was discussed at the budget meeting Thursday but folks felt it is so late in the year that few responses would be forthcoming. But I would like to know what science teachers in DeKalb think of the center, especially now that the center has lost the forest. I agree with posters that staff members are not the best judges of a program’s effectiveness; the users are the ones who ought to be speaking out now.
Folks keep saying that if DeKalb backs out now, they will lose the center forever. Why? Who else would take it over? I understand that science center staff assists at the museum.
Another point a parent just mentioned to me: The science center has enabled the high schools to skimp on advanced science offerings since kids could take courses at the center.
Maureen

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:11 pm

Frankly, I find it astonishing that Fernbank Science Center is compared to a luxury automobile. Fernbank is an INVESTMENT; a luxury automobile is, well, a luxury.

In a year when China has just graduated more than 250,000 engineers and more than 300,000 scientists, while the United States continues to fall further behind, the need to inspire a passion for science in young people is more critical than ever before. Fernbank inspires the inventors and researchers of tomorrow, the backbone of a shifting economy.

Yes, I’d like to see its programs reach more students. No one argues that point. Reaching fewer doesn’t move us closer to that goal.

As for moving the instructors, planetariums and observatories are notoriously difficult to transport. Heck, even small telescopes are hard to move. The largest in the world used for education? Impossible. It’s a treasure.

More, building a facility like Fernbank is next to impossible today. Once gone, it’s gone forever. And Atlanta loses one more edge that helps us compete for companies that bring high-paying jobs.

Fernbank is an investment in the future, not a Lexus.

Just Sayin'

May 29th, 2012
3:15 pm

How about making the center self funding? Below the gnat line we have Regional Youth Science Training Centers that operate by subscription so to speak. Each district chooses whether or not to participate and pays a proportional share of the operating cost. It is also my understanding, and I could be misinformed, that the centers themselves are expected to raise funds from grants and private donations. We have had the director of the center in our region speak to our Rotary Club a couple of times. Surely in metro Atlanta $4.7 million dollars can be privately raised by 56 motivated people.

Dunwoody Mom

May 29th, 2012
3:17 pm

Bottom line, this district cannot afford Fernbank Science Center. It’s old and it needs a tremendous amount of work, for which there no funds allotted. It will crumble around the students just as many of our elementary schools throughout the district are physically crumbling.

This district needs to get back to its “roots”- traditional K-12 schools, get our fiscal affairs in order, and then and only then, should we look at “extras” and “boutique” programs.

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:21 pm

Bottom line, it can’t afford NOT to have Fernbank Science Center. The roots just don’t prepare for the post “great reset” of the coming century. Investing for the future always takes sacrifice. The ones who choose to do so are the ones who compete and thrive. The rest fall behind.

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:26 pm

And yes, I’m not afraid to say it: raise my taxes if that’s what it takes.

Citizen

May 29th, 2012
3:26 pm

Those of you who think the educational services offered by the Science Center can be maintained even without the facility are simply mistaken. The Science Center facility includes instruments (electron microscope, telescopes, spectrometers, and working student microscopes to name a few) which are necessary for teaching science at the modern day level. Several of the subjects (animal ecology, geology, ornithology, entomology) require collections of specimen in order to teach the variation in the natural world. Do you expect each school to be able to afford its own collection? Each individual school cannot have all this, and without 1 location accessible to all students in the entire county, the access to quality education will not be equal across the county.
Furthermore, the Science Center offers a few other programs that have failed to see much spotlight. The first is the science research library. The Science Center maintains a vast library of current primary source scientific literature. No other individual school library subscribes to mainstream science journals. This provides students with the chance to read real science and also allows for a crossover between the equally important skills of reading and science.
Secondly, the Science Center sponsors a vocational horticulture program for students within the county. This program has been directly involved in placing graduates directly into jobs. In a year when the President’s State of the Union address called for strengthening vocational training programs it would be counterproductive to lose this program.

Just Sayin'

May 29th, 2012
3:28 pm

Maybe the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Rivers Alive, various Riverkeeper groups, Southern Environmental Law Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc would be willing to step in and provide some funding. I understand with the new lobbying rules they are particularly flush this year.

I'd rather not say

May 29th, 2012
3:33 pm

Al Tate’s wrong. If you look at the DeKalb Tax Assessor’s web site for the address of FSC. The propert owner is DeKalb County BofE – not Fernbank Inc.

If the FSC closes, DCSD still owns the property. Maybe Fernbank, Inc. would like to buy it?

Just Sayin'

May 29th, 2012
3:33 pm

Hey, if they can find loopholes to let rich parents have taxpayer money come their way for their kids’ private schooling via vouchers, why can’t someone find a loophole for money to go toward something that benefits all of the schoolchildren, like a science center?

blurb

May 29th, 2012
3:35 pm

The entire budget process is an exercise in values judgments. I think most taxpayers would choose to cut 300 administrators as recommended by the consultants before closing the FSC because they value the FSC more than the administrators. I think most taxpayers would choose to reduce our overstaffed police/security department before closing the FSC because they do not see the need for such overstaffing. I think most taxpayers would choose to end lthe litigation that has cost us more than $37 million in legal fees before cutting the FSC because it seems doubtful the litigation will result in a winning situation for the school system.

But I think many taxpayers value not increasing class size over keeping the FSC because the Monday-through-Friday, school-house classes are more important than the enrichment offered by the FSC to most DeKalb County students, and the size of these daily classes affects many, many more students than the STT and AP classes offered at the FSC to a lucky few.

In spite of the budget documents relesed by the superintendent and board members, we just don’t know all of the possible areas to cut. It makes FSC — whose annual costs amount to, at a minimum, 6 percent of the $73 million that needs to be cut — an easy target.

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:37 pm

I’d completely forgotten the library. That alone is worth the money. It’s a priceless resource.

yes i am worried

May 29th, 2012
3:38 pm

The electron telescope is a piece of outdated technology built in 1972.

FSC helps us attract no new employers and barely touches a small percentage of DeKalb’s top graduates.

FSC needs to not be the DeKalb school systems responsibility. If it is so terrific, raising private funds to keep it open, should not be a problem.

The entire system suffers if class sizes are raised. We cannot tax our way out of a 73 million dollar deficit.

Also, next year, there won’t be money for FSC either. DeKalb is now a poor county, one with far less $ than Fulton, Cobb or Gwinnett. In fact, the tax digests of Fulton and Cobb will start to grow long before DeKalb. Maybe one of those system’s want to take it over? Oh wait, they prefer to spend money on actually schools and in actual classrooms.

blurb

May 29th, 2012
3:41 pm

Values judgment again — the library may be great. But I’d rather lose the library than have my kid sitting in a chemistry class with 39 other kids for 180 (or however many they’ve cut it to) days per year.

Scott Fresno

May 29th, 2012
3:45 pm

I think the Science Center is fantastic. My son will be a senior in high school this fall and plans to major in biochemistry when he starts college. The Science Center was a big factor in what inspired him to go the science route. The county would be foolish to close it. We need to inspire more of our children to go into the hard sciences.

Just Sayin'

May 29th, 2012
3:46 pm

@ John Adcox it’s refreshing to see such generosity. Instead of inviting the boe to raise your (and everyone else’s) taxes to fund the center why not make a personal donation and encourage concerned others to do likewise. I’m sure they would be more than willing to cash your checks, and as a non-profit it would actually be tax deductible.

John Adcox

May 29th, 2012
3:47 pm

More Value Judgements:

Results

Overall, the students in the STT program at the end of their senior year had a science GPA of 3.196 compared to the control group which had a GPA of 2.977, a difference of 7.36 percent. For the subgroup of Black Males, the mean GPA for the STT program was 2.887 in contrast to a mean GPA of 2.426 for the control group, a difference of 19.00 percent. The number of science courses taken by students in the STT program at the end of their senior year was 7.872 compared to 7.588, a difference of 3.74 percent. For the subgroup of Black Males, the mean number of science courses taken was 7.690 compared to the control group which had a mean number of science courses taken of 6.381, a difference of 20.51 percent.

As part of the study a questionnaire was mailed to students in the STT and control groups. The response rate for an initial mailing and a follow-up was 40.8 percent. A univariate analysis of variance for one-within and two-between factors for selected responses on the questionnaire resulted in week non-significance for responses grouped according to the week in which they were received. Among the findings of the questionnaire are 1) STT students are three times as likely to be employed full-time in science or a science-related field as the control, 2) STT students are almost twice as likely to have majored in science in college as the control, and 3) STT students are four times as likely to have received a science award while in college as the control.

Educational and Scientific Importance of the Study

As far as can be determined, there is no science program of this magnitude involving a partnership between a museum and a school system in the United States. Furthermore, the results indicate that the STT program could serve as a model for enhanced science education. Based on these results, a science program patterned after STT will be offered to inner city seventh grade students this summer. In addition, a qualitative research study to assess the STT program in the new Fernbank Museum by the DeKalb School System is under consideration.