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TOPS

TOPS – Teaching Opportunities for Partners in STEM

One of the components of the STEM-TRACKS grant is to further develop the TOPS program in Tuolumne County, and expand it into Calaveras and Amador counties.  TOPS identifies scientists and engineers that would like to share their expertise in the classroom through engaging hands-on activities with the students.  Partners receive training and have access to numerous science and engineering kits to ensure that the activities are informative, engaging, fit within the classroom teacher’s curriculum, and fun!

Partners typically will visit their school site eight to ten times per school year, and may work within one grade level, or several.  A Lead Teacher at each school helps coordinate the visits and will do preparatory and followup lessons with their students to support the hands-on activities.  Once a year a Dinner With a Scientist event is held and TOPS Partners are often an integral part of the evening.  Tuolumne County’s event was held on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 and the combination Amador-Calaveras event was held on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

At least one annual training event is held to bring all of the Partners and Lead Teachers together to share their lessons and experiences and learn new teaching strategies.  The 2015 Training Day will be held on June 10th at the InnovationLab in Sonora.  Support for the partnership is provided throughout the school year by the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office.

TOPS Partners come from a wide range of fields; biology, space engineering, medicine, and Earth science, to name a few.  Their enthusiasm for their field and their desire to share that energy with students is what drives the program.  The students appreciate the chance to learn about a wide variety of topics from people that have actually worked in the field, and the teachers appreciate having a “real” scientist or engineer interact with their students using engaging problem-solving and hands-on activities.