||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Cray Academy Begins|
Its 12th Year
MAILED: July 27, 1999|
Between 500 and 600 kindergarten through grade 12 educators from northwestern Wisconsin will attend math, science and/or technology workshops July 26-30 and August 2-6 at Chippewa Falls Senior High as participants in the 12th annual Cray Academy.
"The intent of the workshops is to help the teachers understand how to improve ways of teaching science, math and technology in their respective schools," said Charles Larson, assistant dean for graduate studies and Outreach in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "The aim is to get the students to improve their achievements in these areas."
Larson added that the state of Wisconsin has standards students must meet in these areas, and that a large focus of these workshops is on how to teach to the students so they'll meet the standards.
Cray Academy was the first program of its kind in Wisconsin. Twelve years later, there are 11 other academies like it offered throughout the state. Cray Academy was created when Cray Research, a computer company that in the mid-1980s made the largest and fastest super computer around, decided it wanted to do something significant to contribute to education.
"Cray Research came to us and said they wanted to contribute something," Larson said. "With the $1.5 million contribution a series of workshops was created. The reason the workshops focus on math and science is because that's what Cray was interested in."
For the first five years of the workshops, Cray Research funded all expenses. Since then, the educators who attend pay a standard fee and the rest is paid for through other support, said Larson, adding that each educator gains a free graduate credit from UW-Eau Claire as a result of attending the workshop. All the workshops take place at Chippewa Falls Senior High because of the number of educators who attend.
"Because of the size, it's hard to find facilities to use," said Larson, explaining that that's why the workshops aren't held on the UW-Eau Claire's campus. "At Chippewa Falls Senior High every one is in one building and a sense of community is formed."
During the two weeks, each educator picks one workshop per week to attend. This year there are 36 workshops to choose from. Every Wednesday everyone takes a tour of a local business.
"We take them to two or three businesses so they can see how science and math is used in the real world," Larson said. "It helps them understand the importance of the skills they are teaching to their students."
At one point Cray Academy has had up to 1,000 educators attend in one summer. Even though the numbers aren't that high any more, the academy still attracts a significant number of people.
"I attribute the strong, on-going success of the academy to four things," Larson said. "The workshops are very low cost; the academy has the reputation of being practical and it teaches things that can be directly used in the classroom; the location being in one building gives that sense of community; and the academy has had a lot of support in the area."
And the results of the workshops have shown in the classroom.
"Teachers have changed the way they've taught as a result of what they've learned," said Larson, adding that research has been done to back that up. "Teachers are now doing more hands-on activities rather than just lecturing from the textbook."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 27, 1999