James Short

Professional Title
Director, Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning
About Me (Bio)
Dr. Jim Short is the Director of the new Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The focus of the Gottesman Center is to improve student performance and teacher capacity in the critical area of science education through curriculum support, professional development, and strategic partnerships. The goal of the Center is to extend the use of Museum resources into the formal K-12 education system in New York City and nationally. The Center includes professional development programs for teachers, museum learning experiences for students, educational outreach opportunities, and partnership programs with New York City public schools. The Gottesman Center reaches approximately 3,000 teachers through professional development opportunities at the Museum each year. Over 400,000 New York City students and teachers visit the Museum each year and the Center provides a variety of resources and programs to support these visits. Urban Advantage is a formal/informal partnership program in science education with seven other science-rich cultural institutions and the New York City Department of Education that serves over 150 middle schools and almost 400 science teachers.

Prior to coming to AMNH, Dr. Short worked in the Division of Teaching and Learning at Denver Public Schools. As science curriculum coordinator, he was primarily responsible for the redesign of the K-12 science program. As a result of his work, the district implemented a new district-wide science program that included several inquiry-oriented, research-based science curricula that were developed with funding from the National Science Foundation for elementary, middle school and high school science. Dr. Short’s work in DPS included developing district-wide support systems and resources for science curriculum reform that included professional development opportunities, curriculum implementation tools, formative and summative assessments, materials management and kit refurbishment, and the development of a cadre of teacher leaders to help sustain the science reform efforts in the district. In addition, his work included developing partnerships with informal science institutions, professional organizations, local community groups, and higher education institutions to support the redesigned science curriculum in the district.

Prior to his work in Denver, Dr. Short worked at BSCS (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study) for five years, after eleven years of working in schools as a teacher and science administrator. He worked in the BSCS Center for Professional Development and was the project director of the Science Curriculum Implementation (SCI) Center and director of the National Academy for Curriculum Leadership. The SCI Center was a national science curriculum implementation center funded by the National Science Foundation that focused on building the leadership capacity for curriculum reform. His work at BSCS helped develop the National Academy for Curriculum Leadership into an intensive professional development and technical assistance program supporting the implementation of K-12 standards-based, inquiry-oriented instructional materials in science education. Prior to BSCS, Dr. Short was the Director of Science Education for Edison Schools and has ten years of teaching experience at the middle and high school levels using standards-based, inquiry-oriented curriculum materials. His work at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York, included the implementation of a K-12 articulated science program that emphasized student-centered learning experiences and constructivist teaching practices. He has experience in working with both elementary and secondary teachers, as well as pre-service science teachers and scientists. His work includes classroom teaching and learning, teacher professional development, and working with schools and larger systems on building the capacity for standards-based science reform.

A native of Tennessee, Jim received a Bachelors degree in Biology from Rhodes College (Memphis, TN) and a Masters in science education from Peabody College for Teachers, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). He also received a Doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University (New York) in curriculum and teaching with an emphasis on educational leadership and professional development. His research involved the conditions for supporting professional development that involved analyzing standards-based, inquiry-oriented science instructional materials for curriculum reform in science education. He currently lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut with his wife and two young sons.
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Michigan State University (MSU)

This project hypothesizes that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. It explores the question "How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science?"

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)

Schools and teachers face unprecedented challenges in meeting the ambitious goals of integrating core interdisciplinary science ideas with science and engineering practices as described in new standards. This project developed a middle school ecology unit and related teacher professional development to help high-need and urban middle school students, including English Language Learners, understand these ideas and related practices.