The students are engaged, the Reedies are in their element, and the teachers are pleased, but verifying the effects of the program objectively is another story. "Measurable outcomes?" asks Kaplan. "That's difficult."
Still, somewhere on the order of 3,000 public school children have been exposed to aspects of biology and the scientific process at an early age. Teachers report that when some of the elementary school pupils who have now been through several years of the program reach middle school, they are far more savvy and self-assured about science than their peers. "It's a night and day difference between the kids who've been through it before and those who haven't," says Day. "The ones who have see themselves as scientists already. They become the leaders in the classroom."
Best of all are stories like this one told by Verstegen. "We had one little boy at Rieke who was struggling hard in virtually every area. But when the Reed program started, he got hooked on science. Now his hand is up all the time to be called on, and he started taking books out of the library on science. He became excited enough to read about it, and then he was reading without even noticing. That's what you want to see."
Maya Muir is a freelance writer in Portland. Her last article for Reed was on geologist Clarence Allen '49 in the November '99 issue.