QUEST 2020


QUEST is designed to enhance teachers' knowledge of science and mathematics aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science and Math.  Each session is co-taught by current researchers and teachers so that teachers develop skills to apply science/math content knowledge in their classroom.  QUEST seeks to increase teachers’ enthusiasm, knowledge and confidence teaching science and math. 

1. Risk in the time of the Corona Virus Pandemic for teachers in grades K-12 in all content areas, June 28 - July 2, 2020 *at capacity, no additional applications accepted*

Join us at QUEST to investigate how to cope with risk by learning how animals modulate it every day of their lives.  Risk is an inherent property of being alive.  Nothing in the environment is constant, so all animals—including humans—have to cope with uncertainty.  And given that any strategy that balances tradeoffs among actions associated with competing demands in an uncertain world runs the risk of failing to meet any of them, how do animals cope?  Consequently, coping with risk is a never ending problem facing all living beings.

This summer QUEST will challenge teachers to ‘get inside the minds’ of animals, in particular squirrels in your backyard, to see how they solve this problem.   All animals face the risk of failing to solve two central and conflicting problems associated with maintaining both their short-term and long-term well-being.  In particular they must stay alive by avoiding predators in order to live to feed for another day.  But balancing this trade-off is not easy.  On the one hand, constant vigilance will protect a squirrel from becoming a predator’s dinner, but it will also make it difficult for it  to acquire dinner for itself.  On the other hand, if a squirrel monomaniacally focused on maximizing its nutritional gain, it would almost surely become a predator’s dinner.  So, what is a clever squirrel to do?  How should it modulate its risk of dying either from predation or from starvation?  This is exactly the same question we are now asking ourselves and that of our governments:  how do we avoid infecting ourselves and our neighbors with the Corona virus and perishing without crashing the economy and preventing large segments of the population from putting food on the table for themselves and their families?

Participate in this summer’s four-day QUEST program from Sunday afternoon the 28th of June through Thursday afternoon the 2nd of July 2020 to uncover the answer for yourselves through experiential learning.  Seminal readings and an introductory lecture by Princeton University’s Daniel Rubenstein, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a member of the Teacher Preparation Program’s advisory council, will introduce two key biological concepts—the ‘Landscape of Fear’ and the ‘Life-Dinner Principle’—that will help you design and carryout experiments of your own making in your own backyards on ordinary grey squirrels to answer the question:  how do animals modulate risk to maximize survival.  Professor Rubenstein, Dr. Anne Catena and local teachers will guide you through the learning process that will culminate with the presentation of your results to peers and others to collectively answer the problem of how animals manage risk.

2. Elementary Math: from anxiety to mastery for teachers in grades K-5,  July 7-9, 2020, 9AM-11AM ***NOW A FREE ONLINE PROGRAM***

For elementary students to embrace and excel at math we must spark their engagement, serve different learning styles, and enable the self-pacing that is critical to mastery.  K-5 teachers will engage in hands-on math lessons that tackle all three of these goals while reducing math anxiety.  The lessons tap neuroscience and behavioral research, and align with NJSLS-Math as the basis for best practices.  Strengthen mental math visualization and develop understandings of place value, decomposition and number sense, as you equip yourself with tools to build the confidence of all students.

We recommend that teachers attend with a colleague within their school and across grade levels to build vertical integration concepts and differentiation strategies.

With Laura Overdeck ’91, Founder, Bedtime Math and Shayna Sackett-Gable, Director of Pedagogy, former elementary teacher, curriculum writer, and math coach.  “Bring the Fun Factor to Math Class” is co-developed by the Bedtime Math Foundation and Columbia Teachers College.

3. UnleadED - what is in our drinking water? for teachers in grades 6-12,  July 7-9, 2020, 9AM-11AM ***NOW A FREE ONLINE PROGRAM***

The Flint Water Crisis brought lead in drinking water back into the national spotlight, and many NJ municipalities have similar water quality issues.  At QUEST we will consider the geographic distribution of lead levels in drinking water to understand the structural and environmental factors associated with variation in measured lead water levels. Teachers will interact with an ongoing interdisciplinary research team including a Princeton University sociologist, a geologist, a biologist, and an education policy scholar. We’ll engage in the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices as researchers identify areas with the highest measured lead water levels, and communicate to the public water lead level data and possible solutions to reduce lead exposure risk. QUEST participants will be asked to collect water samples in their school community.

With Jennifer Jennings '00, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University and a former high school teacher at Trenton High School, whose recent research has focused on large-scale informational interventions in K-12 schools. John Higgins, Professor of Geosciences, Princeton University, Scott Latham, Education Policy, Woodrow Wilson School and Robert Darnell, Visiting Scholar at the Lewis-Sigler Institute on Genomics and Professor of Biology at Rockefeller University.

4. Our Changing Weather for teachers in grades 3-8 in all content areas CANCELED

5. Pine Barrens Fire Ecology for teachers in grades K-12 in all content areas CANCELED

6. What's Happening in Science Research? for teachers in grades 9-12 in all content areas CANCELED

Thank you to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton Environmental Institute, Bedtime Math Foundation and the Overdeck Education Innovation Fund for their generous support of QUEST!