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Teachers Take Learning Into Their Own Hands (The Doings)

Teachers Take Learning Into Their Own Hands
The Doings, Hinsdale, IL
June 30, 2008
Written by Amy Deis

Forensic science experiments have become a huge hit with middle and high school students, and it’s no different in Chad Roark’s science classes. “For the kids, it’s kind of a ‘wow’ factor,” said Roark, a seventh-grade science teacher at Gurrie Middle School in La Grange. Roark spent all last week learning new experiments such as identifying different types of animal and human hair at a microscopy camp for middle and high school teachers at the College of Microscopy in Westmont.

The camp enhances the teachers’ knowledge of microscopes through different sessions where they practice up to 60 experiments using materials such as hair, pond water, mold and fish scales. Through one-on-one interaction, the teachers will be able to copy the lessons in their classrooms.

“The real challenge for the instructors was to keep the materials used in the classroom easily accessible to anybody, so they could go to the store and pick them up,” the college’s education director Chuck Zona said.

This was the second year for the Microscopy Camp, planned by Hinsdale’s Don Brooks, president and chief executive officer of The McCrone Group. The college is the education division of The McCrone Group.

Brooks said he formed the camp to raise the level of education in science and math around the country. He targeted microscopes in this camp because teachers either use them every day or do not know enough about them. “It is another tool to introduce into the classroom and fulfill the curriculum but with a different spin on it,” Brooks said.

Angela Patel, freshman and senior biology teacher at Lyons Township High School, wanted to expand her experience with using digital images on the microscope. She does a forensic pathology lab in her own classrooms and said she will add the camps experiments to her own curriculum.

Each of the teachers got to take a digital microscope and a book of more than 200 experiments back to their schools.

For teachers like Patel, the camp encourages them to be more creative in class, said Phil Sumida, Maine West High School science teacher and one of the camp’s instructors. “It’s something you don’t get time to do during the school year,” he said. “There’s no time to develop ideas.”

The College of Microscopy also will have a Forensic Camp Aug. 4-8 for middle and high school teachers. For more information about the college or camp, visit