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and the Scientific Habit
of the Mind

An interdisciplinary educational project for Alexandria and her sister cities


This educational project offers local and foreign elementary school teachers and students the opportunity to customize an interdisciplinary museum-based program that effectively integrates the fragmented school schedule, linking diverse disciplines through a central theme and its concepts so as to help children better understand and address complex, real-life problems. Students enjoy these cognitively-challenging games, regardless of their race, gender, creed, national origin, or handicapping condition.

Activities, research, readings, and projects related to the theme, "Vision and the Scientific Habit of Mind," involve state-of-the-art educational toys and games, computer technology and Internet capabilities in the classroom and the school. This project culminates in the "Socrates Festival" showcasing the students' work locally and on the Internet, and in a 12-foot painted mural depicting the relationship between Alexandria and the world to celebrate her 250th Anniversary in 1999. This international project connects Alexandria and her sister cities through children's discoveries and inventions across disciplines, increasing their chances of gaining the kind of education, both in school and out in the world, that best prepares them to become critical thinkers in the global job market and interconnected society of the 21st century.


"Vision and the Scientific Habit of Mind" takes place in four stages: (1) The Socrates Institute 5-day, 30-hour professional development workshop for educators, focusing on interdisciplinary curriculum and Internet integration in October 1998, (2) communication via e-mail and Internet and adaptation of the curriculum between participating educators from November 1998-March 1999, to prepare the elementary school teachers from Alexandria and our sister cities to adapt, pilot, and implement in their own classrooms, an interdisciplinary program based on the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History exhibit, Science in American Life, (3) simultaneous, international implementation of the classroom curriculum in April-May, 1999, and (4) The Socrates Festival June 4-5,1999, presenting the students' collaborative projects and interdisciplinary mural, "Children's Visions of Alexandria: Past, Present & Future" celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the city, and showing how all fields of study and aspects of our lives here in Alexandria both touch and have been touched by global events throughout our history.



1995-1996 Development of "Vision" Project based on Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History exhibit, Science in American Life.

WINTER 1997 Project Approval and Support by Alexandria Public Schools' Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum, Pilot Teacher, and Principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School.

FEBRUARY 1998 Pilot Teacher Workshop. The Socrates Institute conducts a mini-workshop on educational philosophy and interdisciplinary curriculum design and implementation.

MARCH 1998 Pilot Classroom Implementation Project. Students learn to become keen observers, and visit the Smithsonian exhibit to see how the work of visionaries and discoverers has shaped the country and the world not just scientifically, but in all aspects of our lives.

SPRING 1998 Recruit Teachers, High School & Community Volunteers.

SUMMER 1998 Web Page Construction and International Coordination. School technology director designs and hosts site for posting student materials and conducting web chats.

OCTOBER 1997 Sister Cities Teacher Delegates and Alexandria Participants Attend Socrates Workshop to Prepare for Full Classroom Implementation. (Teachers from Caen, France and Helsingborg, Sweden join Alexandria counterparts) Teachers take "virtual field trips" on the Internet, visit local businesses to select and identify relevant materials and contacts, tour the Smithsonian exhibit and Hands-on Science Center, meet with scientists who will work on-line, and make other important contacts.

WINTER 1998 Teacher Communication, Materials Preparation for Implementation. Teachers e-mail twice a week, access a common web site to identify and post useful ideas, photos, Web addresses, etc., preparing students as well as the actual materials, toys, software, volunteers, and classrooms for the program. Volunteers are familiarized with the project and their roles.

APRIL-MAY 1999 Full Classroom Implementation of "Vision" Project. Teachers conduct the program, taking students on virtual and/or real field trips, confronting them with complex and fascinating problems related to how science penetrates our lives, working with facilitators on designing appropriate investigative strategies, and discovering tools necessary for addressing such problems. Students e-mail each other questions, share ideas, discuss collaborative "virtual" projects for The Socrates Festival, design mural and begin to apply learned facts and skills towards a greater understanding of the concepts studied. Students paint a mural celebrating Alexandria's 250th Anniversary by deonstrating their visions of the past, present, and future of the city.

June 4-5, 1999 The Socrates Festival (Landmark Mall) Students design and display projects for festival in Center Court, attended by the press, parents, and community, to demonstrate their interdisciplinary understanding of central themes from the study. Mayor Donley unveils the mural, "Children's Visions of Alexandria" Past, Present & Future."

SUMMER 1999 Program Evaluation. The Socrates Institute conducts a qualitative evaluation of the entire program. Such issues as: effectiveness, practicality, motivation, interest, appropriateness, and usefulness across cultures, etc. are investigated in depth.

FALL 1999 Final Report on Project, and Dissemination of Program.

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