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UC Launches New Teacher-Training Center For Mono, Inyo, Alpine Counties

August 28, 2001

Parents and children are invited to attend a special Build It! Festivalon Saturday, September 1 at the 2001 Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair in Bishop. Sponsored by the University of California, Merced, the festival will be located in the Charles Brown Building at the Inyo County Office of Education booth, and will run from noon to 3 p.m..

The Build It! Festival contains a number of challenging, educational, and fun hands-on activities related to geometry, spatial visualization, construction, and other math concepts. Activities include building towers out of newspaper dowels, creating tessellations, making polyhedra, and exploring symmetry. These compelling and constructive challenges provide active and creative mathematical learning. The Build It! Festival marks the opening of a new Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) Center that will provide training and support for science and mathematics teaching in the three counties. The GEMS Center will be the sixth GEMS Center established as part of the University of California, Merced's effort to raise the academic achievement of area students in advance of the opening of the new campus in 2005. UC Merced will have a strong emphasis on science and engineering.

The new GEMS Center will offer a series of intensive workshops to train selected teachers in effective, research-based mathematics and science teaching methods developed at University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science and published by the GEMS Program. Teachers who go through workshops at the Center will then return to their own schools to train other teachers and implement the new teaching strategies.

The new center is the result of a collaborative effort between the University of California, Merced, the GEMS Program of the University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Mono and Inyo County Offices of Education.

GEMS is a growing resource for content-rich, inquiry-based science and mathematics education. Tested in thousands of classrooms nationwide, over 70 GEMS Teacher's Guides and Handbooks offer a wide spectrum of learning opportunities from preschool and kindergarten through eighth grade. Since the early 1990s, more than 8,000 teachers in the San Joaquin Valley and over 600,000 teachers worldwide have experienced the GEMS Program.

Scheduled to open in fall 2005 to serve 1,000 students, UC Merced employs approximately 85 educators and professionals at the present time. The Universitys main campus is currently being planned. The campus will grow over coming decades to serve 25,000 students. UC Merced contributes to educational access through the entire San Joaquin region via special educational and outreach centers in Fresno and Bakersfield. A new UC Merced center will open in Modesto in early 2002.

For more information about GEMS Centers and other UC Merced K-12 programs in the San Joaquin Valley, please contact Diana Ralls, UC Merced K-12 Programs Coordinator, at (559) 241-7406. Additional information about the GEMS Program is available by contacting UC Berkeley's Matthew Osborn at (510) 642-7262 or by email at