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Release: August 6, 1999

South Korean science teachers attend UI for two months

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some 20 South Korean science teachers are at the University of Iowa for two months to assist with faculty research, visit high school classrooms and redesign curriculum for use when they return to their own classrooms.

The visitors, who arrived Monday and will stay until Sept. 25, are all high school teachers who specialize in earth sciences, such as geology, oceanography, astronomy and paleontology.

Robert Yager, a science education professor in the UI College of Education's Division of Curriculum and Instruction, said the visit is being paid for with $180,000 from the South Korean Ministry of Education. He said the UI science education program has had a working relationship with South Korea for several years and that interest in the exchange of ideas about science education reform in the United States is growing in that country.

"They've really liked what we've done," Yager said, adding that dozens of South Korean teachers have come to study at the UI over the years, individually or as part of other workshops. "I think it's giving us some respectability in terms of changes in Iowa."

The teachers will be broken up into several groups and will work closely with UI professors of astronomy, geography and geology on research projects, primarily by reading research papers. Ongoing symposia will give them a chance to share what they've learned with one another and to listen to guest speakers, including former astronaut George D. "Pinky" Nelson, a native of Charles City, Iowa, who flew on shuttle missions STS 41-C, STS 61-6 and STS 26, accumulating more than 410 hours of space flight.

The teachers also will get a taste of education -- and home life -- in America by visiting 10 high school science classrooms and spending several nights in the homes of Iowa hosts.

Toward the end of the visit, the teachers will work with UI faculty to restructure one module of their curriculum so they can apply back home what they learn here.

Myung Shin, a native of South Korea who is working on her Ph.D. in science education at Iowa, has worked for three years as an informal liaison during these visits, arranging accommodations, translating and coordinating activities. She said the South Korean government considers science education a national priority.

"Every parent wants the kids to learn science very well," Shin said. "We link science to economic security because the government wants that."