The Teacher-Scientist Alliance Institute was launched with funding from the Campaign for Physics, a major fund-raising effort of the APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) to support science education. Its purpose is to get scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals involved in school districts that either had a program of standards-based, systemic reform of elementary science education underway or that were ready to start such a program. The initiative consists of four components:
1. Lead-Scientists Institutes (LSDs) are intended for lead scientists who are dedicated to working with their local school district(s) to reform science education in areas that are committed to reform. The program provides a thorough overview of issues in science education reform and identifies roles for scientists and engineers. When the district is ready to begin local implementation of the program, there is a broader mobilization of scientists, who attend a one-day workshop to acquaint them with the school district's program for reform. Seven institutes have been held to date.
2. One Day Workshops for Scientists are designed to provide a larger group of scientists condensed information about science education reform in their community. The workshops are conducted jointly with a school district and are aimed at getting lead scientist involved with local education reform efforts. The scientists may also have direct interaction with the students, depending on the evolution of the local program. 16 workshops have been held to date.
3. Half -day Community Information Workshops are designed for leaders in the local education and business communities, parents and area scientists. These workshops aim to convey the value and excitement of a hands-on, inquiry centered science program. The workshops have been effective in building both community and administrative support for science education reform. Half-day workshops have been held in 13 states (22 sites) to date.
4. Regional Leadership Institutes are designed to support systemic reform by bringing together leadership teams from 10-15 school districts (or consortia of school districts) in a single region. The teams are comprised of a superintendent or assistant superintendent for instruction, a system-wide science coordinator, an elementary-school principle, a middle-school principle, two or three outstanding teachers, and a scientist or engineer who has already shown a serious commitment to improving the district's science education program. The institute provides an overview of issues in science education reform and assists the teams in developing a strategic plan for reform in their communities. In addition, links are created to local sources of technical assistance and to the local scientific community. TSAI has conducted Regional Leadership Institutes in New England (1996), the Southeast (1997), San Diego (1998), and Texas (1999). It has also conducted 3-day compressed versions of the institutes in Atlanta (1999).