Teacher Summer Science Academy (TSSA)

Teacher Summer Science Academy

The ACCESS Center has been working for the past six years to develop
projects which utilize the science and engineering expertise of
faculty at CSLA. In an effort to enhance the capability of middle
school teachers who educate pre-college students in the Greater
Los Angeles area. We have determined that the most efficient
way to influence young students in large numbers and on a long-term
basis is to have their teachers become comfortable with laboratory
science in the classroom.

For the past two summers, CSLA Biology faculty joined with Caltech's
Biology Division to host a five and one-half week science workshop
for middle school teachers exposing them to innovative hands-on
science curricula. CSLA through the efforts of the ACCESS Center
will continue this Teacher Enhancement program for a third year,
re-structuring the academy to a three-week period and held solely
on the campus of CSLA.


Teacher participants are recruited from middle schools with high
percentages of minority and economically disadvantaged students.
A CSLA biology professor acts as a campus coordinator and three
other CSLA faculty members provide leadership and instruction
for the academy. A science coordinator with experience both in
teaching science in middle schools and in conducting workshops
for middle school teachers acts as a liaison between CSLA academic
staff and the teachers. This person also assists the teachers
in transferring what is learned in the academy and applying it
in their classrooms. In this way the academy is rich in content
and professional development, and also provides practical assistance
in implementing what is learned in the academy. To further assist
TSSA teachers with classroom implementation, classroom kits of
materials and supplies are provided for use in their schools.
Furthermore, two sessions are used to evaluate currently available
science materials such as texts, workbooks, or videos that might
be used as enrichment materials in their classrooms.


"Bottle Biology" is the curriculum that is used in the
academy. This curriculum was developed by the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and the project promotes science as a tool all
students can use to explore the world. Lessons contained within
Bottle Biology can be integrated with math, history, social science
and other disciplines. Bottle Biology teaches about science and
the environment using recyclable materials that are local and
inexpensive, dispelling the myth that science belongs only to
people with Ph.D's, white coats and labs full of expensive instruments
and materials. TSSA trained teachers, are encouraged to work
in groups, ask questions, think about the information they collect,
predict possible answers, and develop their own methods of inquiry.
Further lessons emphasize forming hypotheses and experimental

To broaden and strengthen these teachers' scientific backgrounds,
TSSA includes lectures and demonstrations on topics related to
Bottle Biology. Enrichment for TSSA teachers include: effects
of pollution; growth rates; decomposition; fermentation; and the
predator-prey systems. Field trips include visits to Caltech’s
Seismic Laboratory; the Huntington Library to view the gardens;
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Teacher Resource Center,
a walking tour of the CSLA campus and Legg Lake to collect plants,
soil and insect specimens; and a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Selected "Alumni" from past academies are invited back
each year to share experiences and expertise with “new”
attendees, thus providing positive reinforcement to both past
and present TSSA participants.