The U.S. Naval Academy's (USNA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program hosted a STEM Educator Training Workshop for K-12 teachers Saturday, Feb. 21, in Rickover and Michelson Hall.
More than 70 STEM educators participated in the day-long event. USNA Midshipmen and faculty provided a hands-on and project-based learning experience in topics such as design, bioterrorism, physics and mechanics, applied math, alternative energy, computer programming and cryptography, and engineering.
"Today we have formal educators of elementary, middle, and high schools from as far away as Chicago and Memphis, as well as teachers from Maryland, and they are rotating through project-based learning modules in STEM topics," said Angela Moran, USNA professor of mechanical engineering and STEM Outreach director. "The educators rotate through three of five offered modules this morning and in the afternoon they will learn about engineering design and focus on putting that into practice in their classrooms."
One of the main goals of the STEM Educator Training Workshop is to increase instructor excitement for learning STEM topics so that they may share what they have learned with their students.
“The more enthusiasm that they can apply in the classroom, the more excited the students will be about math, science, and technology,” said Lt. Cdr. Tim Shivok, USNA physics instructor. “The United States needs more teachers that teach math and science so that we can develop people that will study these fields in the future.”
“It’s a great experience because the facilitators can make the workshop apply to each of the different grade levels and the learning topics are very diverse,” said Helen Shields, biology teacher at Crofton Meadows Elementary. “I think that it’s great that this free opportunity is offered to educators and that it’s able to give us a different perspective of STEM topics.”
The culminating event of the workshop was an engineering design competition. During the competition, the teachers formed groups and were tasked with designing a STEM project for their classrooms that incorporated the educational tools and lessons that they learned from the modules earlier in the day.
"We tell the teachers that the most infectious way of teaching is to learn right along with their students," said Moran. "When they are excited about what they are doing, the kids can see the difference and pick up on it."