Educators see science from kid’s eye-view

From left to right, Academy School District 20 teachers Kirsten Burda, Robert Young and Kevin McGregor work on designing and assembling their glider project. Photo by Julie Imada

From left to right, Academy School District 20 teachers Kirsten Burda, Robert Young and Kevin McGregor work on designing and assembling their glider project. Photo by Julie Imada

By Julie Imada

Research Publicist

 

With plans and pencils in hand, teachers Robert Young, Kevin McGregor and Kirsten Burda conferred on the next steps in designing and assembling their glider.

Surrounded by high school students firing up their excitement and interest in science and technology with their glider efforts, the teachers were gathering up knowledge and projects for them to take back to their own classrooms.

On June 9 and 10, science and mathematics teachers from Academy School District 20 and Lewis Palmer School District 38 participated in the annual Academy Summer Seminar 2010 Science and Technology Educator Workshop. The workshop offers local educators the opportunity to share their techniques on firing up students interest in science and mathematics, learn new techniques to take back to their classrooms, and to discuss the current challenges facing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics efforts, known as STEM.

“These teachers do a wonderful job of motivating their students toward STEM opportunities and in preparing their students for success in their transition to college,” said Col. Neal Barlow, Chair of the the Academy’s Engineering Division and Vice President of Education for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The Air Force Academy is hoping to do more to support educators in their efforts and has instituted a broad range of programs available to students, educators, and other regional STEM organizations.

These efforts range from bringing students to the Academy to participate in hands-on science programs like CoolScience and Girls in the Middle to establishing summer STEM workshops and continuing education credits for educators throughout the Southern Colorado region. Efforts also include infusing local STEM organizations such as the Challenger Learning Center and Project Lead the Way with a $215,000 investment provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense National Defense Education Program or NDEP.

This year’s Summer Seminar Educator workshop was funded by the NDEP grant as well as the Academy School District 20 Board of Education.

Over the course of the two-day workshop, teachers were given hands-on projects and lessons to take into their classroom including glider design, rocket design, laser and optics projects, and mathematics modeling. Each of the educators went home with CD-ROM that included all of the projects, teaching lessons, and required software to incorporate the lessons into their classrooms.

“This is fabulous,” said Mountain Ridge Middle School mathematics teacher Laurie Loncar. “This is an opportunity to walk away with good ideas and help kids envision what they can do.”