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SSP Fellow Chris Campbell on the 2011 SSP Fellows Intitute

Chris Campbell (left) conducts an experiment at the 2011 SSP Fellows Institute

By Chris Campbell, 2011 SSP Fellow


I’ve been to hundreds of hours of professional development opportunities over my 11 years of teaching, but very few were as intense and rewarding as the SSP Fellows Institute. I was one of ten teachers chosen from around the country to learn better ways to integrate authentic student research and receive $8,500 per year in project funding for up to four years. The format of the institute was not completely different from ones I have done before, but the intensity of it was second-to-none.


The institute started with an unconventional but effective ice-breaker: a kickball game in the shadows of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC. The venue for the event was the Donovan House hotel, which I think mirrored the eclectic personalities of the participants— teachers from all ages, personalities, backgrounds, and stages in their careers, but bonded by a passion for teaching and good senses of humor.  “A Little Sweat” should have been the theme of the institute as we worked through hours of presentations and photos and meetings with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill and worked at designing a lesson plan for Vernier sensors, editing our Project Management Plans (PMP) late into the night, completing a scavenger hunt, and conquering team building challenges at Terrapin Adventures in Maryland.


I was able to meet with both Representative Rodney Alexander and Senator David Vitter from Louisiana to discuss the SSP Fellowship and challenges facing STEM educators. Most of the time at the Fellows Institute was spent revising our PMPs, but we did have time to network, make an occasional visit to the rooftop pool, or walk the streets in the midst of the century anniversary celebration of Omega Psi fraternity brothers. The Institute speakers brought a wealth of knowledge and insights about effective leadership, working school research projects, business management models, and detailed project management and planning. We also received autographed copies of Success with Science: The Winner’s Guide to High School Research after a presentation by one of the authors, Shiv Gaglani.


This was without a doubt one of the most rewarding teacher institutes I have done, and I know that I have made friends for a lifetime, and that I can call on any of them to for advice and help. SSP was a fantastic host, I think that this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between SSP and my students. I plan to keep in touch and continue to foster relationships with the other fellows, SSP staff, and presenters.



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Having been one of the instructors for the 2011 SSP Teacher Fellows Institute, I can heartily agree with Chris that this was an amazing group of teachers who were tightly bonded by the end of the week. I am proud to be a part of this amazing program and look very much forward to the opportunity to work with each new group of Fellows at the Institute each year (for as long as Jennifer will have me!).

I think great things are on their way out of the class of 2011 Fellows and I wish them all the very best of luck. Remember your elevator speeches and those big ASKS!!

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