Hands-on science: Quest program lets teachers do the learning

It was a dramatic moment in a Guyot Hall laboratory as elementary school teacher Debbie Baker injected a syringe of red water into the underside of a mound of gelatin. Four other teachers huddled with rapt attention, then broke into whoops and gasps as a red stream erupted through the gelatin and gushed down the mound onto a cluster of Monopoly-game houses.

"We lost the village!" said Baker, a teacher at the Wilbur Watts Intermediate School in Burlington, N.J.

"That was amazing!" said Darlene Brown of the Elias Boudinot Elementary School, also in Burlington.

The mock disaster was a demonstration of the dynamics of volcanoes and lava flows. It was the kind of hands-on learning experienced by 57 New Jersey middle and elementary school teachers who participated in Princeton University's Quest program, which ran through Friday, July 18.

The Quest program brings local teachers together with Princeton scientists and students in a series of workshops aimed at enhancing their knowledge of science and inspiring new ways to present the material to students. The program is hosted by the University's Program in Teacher Preparation , in collaboration with the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Princeton Center for Complex Materials .

The year's Quest program was an emotional experience for many of those involved because it followed the recent death of Princeton physicist Aaron Lemonick , the longtime director of the program whose enthusiasm and teaching skill were legendary. Lemonick had been working up until his death at age 80 on plans for the astronomy workshop, which he led.

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Contact: Eric Quinones (609) 258-3601