Federal funds support STEM teacher workshop

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer seminar currently training 21 secondary math and science teachers

The University of Tulsa College of Engineering and Natural Sciences is hosting a summer workshop now through June 27 to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in local classrooms.

The event is funded with federal money administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. TU’s grant proposal for the workshop, known as STEMulating Teaching!, was one of nine statewide grants selected to receive funding. The grant creates a partnership between TU, Broken Arrow Public Schools, Owasso Public Schools, Jenks Public Schools and Flight Safety Incorporated in Broken Arrow.

The 12-day STEMulating Teaching! workshop currently is training 21 secondary math and science teachers. TU faculty present college-level treatments of basic STEM content to improve the understanding of major STEM disciplines, provide teachers with professional development opportunities and develop inquiry-based, STEM-infused classroom activities that align with Oklahoma State Academic Standards.

“The inquiry style is in contrast to traditional teaching that is teacher-centered, with students passively listening to lectures,” said Jerry McCoy, TU applied associate professor of physics and grant codirector. “State and national academic standards dictate that teaching in STEM disciplines should be conducted largely through inquiry, mainly because inquiry capitalizes on students’ natural curiosity and is how science and math are actually carried out at a professional level.”

Brainstorming among workshop participants is encouraged because it helps them take ownership of their ideas and build confidence in their teaching abilities, McCoy said. Over the next year, the teachers will directly influence 3,000 students in their own classrooms and another 15,000 indirectly through professional development projects with colleagues.

Each teacher receives a stipend, three hours of graduate credit and $725 to purchase supplies for future professional development activities.

Gail Ellis