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STeM to STEM: Teaching teachers about engineering

This week, 35 middle and high school math, science and technology teachers are back in the classroom at Ohio Northern University, learning how to present engineering concepts to their students.

Chosen from Lima City, Bath, Ottawa-Glandorf, Kalida and Pandora-Gilboa school districts, they are participating in three Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers teacher in-service program engineering activities, web 2.0 and vodcasting sessions, classroom Skyping with professional engineers, and sessions on STEM resources.

Dr. Debra Gallagher, assistant professor of education, and Dr. Ken Reid, director of freshman engineering and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, are directing the workshop, STeM 2 STEM, which is funded by an eTech Teacher Planning Grant.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics used in k-12 education. STeM 2 STEM focuses on using educational technology to capitalize the “e” for engineering in STeM. According to research for the project, teachers are trained to operate information and communication technology (ICT) tools but tend to fail at incorporating ICT into their teachings.

Although k-12 schools in Ohio have science, technology and math classes, engineering courses are rare. The goals for capitalizing the “e” are advancing ICT in local k-12 schools and introducing engineering education to middle and high school teachers and students. Additionally, the program wants to provide pre-service teachers with field experience in classrooms using technology, engineering and project-based learning, and develop a community of practice involving teachers, ONU faculty and peer teachers advanced in ICT and engineering education.

STeM 2 STEM will provide teachers with materials and ICT needed for classroom engineering projects and will offer support through the project’s website.

In addition to this week’s activities, the participants will attend follow-up meetings. In October, they will attend a meeting at ONU to share experiences of engineering activities and ICT in their classrooms. In January, the teachers will have a distance-learning meeting where they will look at technology for student learning. They also will give a summary presentation of the project and how it has improved their classroom in the spring.