What is HASP?
HASP, Hands-on Activity Science Program, is a nationally recognized model for elementary science instruction that was developed by North Alabama districts. This project has been supported by local, state and federal funds including grants from the National Science Foundation. HASP is a partnership of eight school districts and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The eight school districts are Athens City, Decatur City, Fort Payne City, Jackson County, Madison City, Madison County, Morgan County, and Scottsboro City Schools. The eighty schools in the partnership use materials-based curriculum that is built upon nationally tested modules, inquiry-based teaching strategies and authentic assessment. It is currently being implemented in grades K-6.
HASP is part of the reform movement in teaching science. The goal of reform is to change what happens to children in the classroom. Teaching strategies must recognize the need for students to explore the natural world through classroom activity. Acknowledging that children learn science best by engaging in inquiry necessitates a change from didactic or lecture oriented science instruction to a hands-on, minds-on approach.
The Institute for Science Education (ISEd), the organizational home for HASP, was established by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in 1990 to facilitate reform of science education. HASP began with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form industry-school partnerships to improve science education in grades 3-8 in the Huntsville City and Madison County Schools. The Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce Foundation sponsored the original project, gathered funding for it from private sources and guided it with a review board of prominent community and school leaders.
Further support through a teacher enhancement grant from NSF during 1993-95 focused upon grades K-5 and contributed substantially to the development of HASP as a partnership and as a model program. The applicability of HASP as a model for other school districts has been tested. Grants from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (Eisenhower funds) and from the Marshall Space Flight Center supported initiation of HASP in Decatur and Scottsboro in 1993-94 and in Morgan County and Athens in 1994-95.
Support from Alabama Space Grant Consortium allowed exploration of the general applicability of a university-school partnership model through a project in Birmingham. A cooperative project between UAH and UAB in 1994-95 introduced HASP in Birmingham, Bessemer, Jefferson County, Hoover, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills school districts.
HASP was included in Science For All Children as one of eight model programs, described in National Research Council (Fall 1993) (Winter 1997) and National Science Resources Center (Fall 1993) newsletters, presented in Mr. Wizard television program, inquired about by numerous individuals, and visited by representatives from several locations. HASP teachers have guided professional development of other teachers in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Reform projects in other locations (Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Pittsburgh) incorporate elements of the HASP model.
Participating school districts share a common vision that takes guidance from the national studies and incorporates local experiences. HASP partners have adopted six basic principles.
Strategy for Reform
Reform is made of small changes toward a common vision. Support for each change is generated by testing it in smaller units and building understanding along the way. Before full-scale implementation, selected teachers pilot each curriculum module and each teaching innovation. A reform progression sequence that has been found effective in HASP projects is shown in the following table:
An initial phase of planning and piloting requires 1 to 2 years. This leads to a decision to implement the new curriculum and teaching approaches in all classrooms. The pilot phase helps school districts better understand the nature of reform, adopt necessary policies and commit resources for professional development. A sound reform strategy allots 4 to 5 years for change to the new curriculum and teaching strategies.
This project is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Science Education (ISE) of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and nine school districts - Athens, Decatur, Fort Payne, Huntsville, Jackson County, Madison City, Madison County, Morgan County and Scottsboro. The districts are located in northern Alabama and include rural, suburban and urban schools. The goals and objectives for this project are consistent with the National Science Standards. Districts will:
- 1. Convert to an activity-inquiry science program in grades K-6
- a. Implement an activity-inquiry curriculum
b. Use appropriate inquiry-based teaching strategies
c. Guide instruction with authentic assessment methods
- 2. Support a "Materials Resources Center"
- a. Provide kits of materials for all modules as needed in the classrooms
- b. Facilitate professional development of teachers and principals
c. Assist in curriculum planning
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