What is TOPS?
The Teachers + Occidental = Partnership in Science (TOPS) program consists of a number of science outreach programs planned and directed by its teacher participants and Occidental College. The program has had an influence in changing school culture by facilitating interactions that motivates school administrators reexamine and reaffirm the value of broadly offering high-level lab-based activities to students in all levels of science courses. Evidence for this includes retention of five of the original schools with (several generations of TOPS teachers) that continue to participate in the program since its founding in 1992.
TOPS' long-range goal is to increase interest and achievement in science among K – 12 students by:
- Providing secondary students and educators access to advanced scientific instrumentation for standards-based hands-on laboratory experiences in biology, chemistry, and physics.
- Increasing science educators' self-perception as professionals and scientists
- Improving the teaching of laboratory concepts
- Supporting science educators' efforts to improve instruction at their local schools
TOPS has established a reputation for outstanding support for teachers as they introduce advanced scientific instrumentation into their classrooms. Since the inception of the TOPS program in 1992, more than 60,000 students have had the opportunity to participate in these advanced lab experiments. Our studies have shown that students who have access to modern scientific technology in the classroom show a statistically significant increase in interest in science classes and science in general. Approximately 60% of the teachers who have attended one of the TOPS Summer workshops continue to participate in the program. During the 2008 – 09 school year over 7000 students at twenty schools in the greater Los Angeles region participated in at least two TOPS labs in one of the three disciplines. Of these 7000 students over 40% were underrepresented minorities and nearly 50% were female.
Our highly successful biology, physics, and chemistry staff development workshops provide training and access to modern laboratory equipment to support a series of over 20 laboratory experiments appropriate to high school science courses (e.g. life science, physical science, biology, chemistry, AP, and honors courses). In 2010 – 2011 TOPS is introducing labs on thermodynamics (chemistry & physics) and biotechnology (biology).
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