Bora has an interview up with one Stacy C. Baker, a high school biology teacher who is well known around the science blogosphere for an active use of new Web type technologies in biology instruction. Read it because, among other things, you will come away with the thought I had of "OMG if we could just clone her for every fifth biology high school position that would be awesome!". The enthusiasm and dedication of this teacher, who after all is at the very most critical point in recruiting new brains into science careers, is palpable. And there are links a-plenty to see what she has been doing with new teaching technologies.
Still the thing that really caught my eye was this:
This summer I'm working in Michael Nitabach's lab at Yale studying circadian rhythms in fruit flies. The project is funded by a NIH grant directed at getting science teachers involved in research.
The NIH grant was offered through the use of the ARRA money. Hopefully, NIH will seriously consider offering the grant every year. It would be a strong investment into the future of science education.
This looks like one of the administrative supplements that were on offer for the purpose Summer Research Experiences for Students and Science Educators as part of the stimulus package. Looks like a success to me! Miss* Baker noted in her interview at ABATC:
At the risk of upsetting the traditionalists, I believe there is total lunacy in allowing a person to teach science who has never actually practiced science. You can't learn science by reading textbooks or taking educational methodology classes. Every science teacher needs to have the experience of participating in original research and they need to routinely refresh their skills.
I don't know that we can expect this as a standard everywhere. Being a high school teacher is really demanding and the nature of the job in the US does not allow A) a great deal of choosiness about who gets hired and B) a great deal of ongoing experience as a practicing/publishing/etc scientist at the cutting edges. But it is a thing to be respected, cherished and supported where it IS a possibility.
I want to note, however, that this is not just an effort that sprung up with the ARRA. I am aware of many institutions that run some sort of summer program which includes drawing local science educators into the laboratories. These have, to my limited awareness, been funded by a variety of sources including, I think, administrative supplements to research grants. At the very least, it is usually possible to pay summer interns out of grant funds and although in most cases these are undergraduate students, there is no reason this can't be done with local high school teachers. All it really takes is identifying a teacher who would be interested.
If this sounds interesting to you, maybe explore whether your University has programs to reach out to the local high school educators? You might happen upon someone who comes back for several summers and contributes substantially to your ongoing program.
*she uses this online (http://www.missbakersbiologyclass.com/blog), don't kill me