CORVALLIS - A former Oregon State University doctoral student in science education was so impressed with his OSU education that he wanted to show off the university to his friends and colleagues from Taiwan.

So Huey-Por Chang arranged to bring 25 middle school students, two science teachers, a language teacher and a nurse for a week of science, mathematics, technology and a little fun on the OSU campus.

The group's visit, which was assisted by Ellen Ford, director of Saturday Academy at OSU, and Norman Lederman, professor of science and mathematics education, will end with a visit to da Vinci Days Friday night.

Chang is chair of the Physics Department at National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan and one of the country's leading science educators. He's a strong advocate of "hands-on, minds-on" science, an inquiry-oriented instructional approach that actively involves students in authentic science experiences.

The visiting middle school students are paying their own expenses for this visit, and Chang said he would like to make this year's "Taiwan Academic Cultural Exchange" an annual event.

For the students, the week's schedule has been filled with a variety of life, physical, earth and space science, mathematics and technology activities, including pond studies, model rocketry, marine biology, the building of electric motors and functioning telescopes, soil science, and chemistry. They're in class 12 hours a day.

"It's really surprising how well everything is going," Ford said. "The students are having fun, learning a lot and getting a chance to see what American higher education is like. This is the first time we know of students of this age traveling so far for a short period of intensive science instruction. We'd like to make this an annual event if possible."

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Ellen Ford, 541-737-1822