Kansas Teachers Explore STEM Practices and Content During Three Day STEM Institute

By on May 8, 2017 in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, Teacher Training Workshops

I love when I get the opportunity to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training to educators for more than a one-day session. With a three-day plus training session you can begin to dig deeper into STEM practices and content aside from just scratching the surface with one day sessions. Even better, is when the client has scheduled on-going, sustainable training to take place in the near future as a follow-up and extension of the initial training. This type of professional staff development will provide teachers with a strong foundation to be able to visualize the actual implementation of highly effective STEM practices as well as gaining deeper knowledge of the STEM content.

I recently conducted a three-day STEM teacher training institute for Kansas teachers. The group consisted of grades 3-8 which is a workable mix of grade levels. The group experience with incorporating STEM practices and content ranged from advanced to very little experience. Within the three day institute teachers were observing as well as modeling inquiry based teaching practices. Conducting STEM investigations that incorporated 21st century skills including: critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration.

Every STEM investigation teachers undertook provided them with the opportunity to practice inquiry and incorporate 21st century skills. A major focus was placed on designing opportunities for students to incorporate science and engineering practices including the Engineering Design Process.

Additionally, teachers were introduced to the use of reflective journaling in STEM classrooms which is aligned to the learning goals of NGSS. Throughout the three days of training the following STEM content and investigations were undertaken by the teachers:

  • Engineering Design Process Challenges
  • Incorporating affordable and meaningful technology
  • Polymer Science
  • Connecting Math and Architectural Principles
  • Biomimicry
  • Solar Energy
  • Electricity (including littleBits and Squishy Circuits)
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Force, Motion and Energy Concepts

Throughout the three-day institute I observed and heard many remarks from the teachers as they began to truly understand how incorporating STEM practices and investigations is so much more than “hands-on-science”. Designing a classroom and STEM experiences that will provide the students to be the “thinkers and doers”, to develop and strengthen their 21st century skills, and apply what they have practiced and learned to the “real-world” is what we should be striving for within all of our classrooms.

I gave the teachers plenty of time to reflect on the investigations we undertook throughout the three-days, as well as having the teachers discuss the actual implementation of what they had undertaken during the training within their own classroom. It’s essential in professional staff development that the presenter provide time for the participants to reflect and discuss otherwise it’s just another training that goes by the wayside.

I’m looking forward to hearing from the participants and the administrators of how their classrooms will transform throughout the rest of the year, next year and beyond. The following photos are a sampling of the STEM investigations undertaken during the three day institute. For more information about the STEM, STEAM, NGSS teacher training and keynotes Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski conducts year-round, worldwide contact her via the contact page found on this site.

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