Area teachers participate in two-year STEM workshop

Local educatorsTeachers from several area school districts are participating in a two-year workshop/institute (WIP 4) titled Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The goal of the workshop is to strengthen the quality of mathematics instruction in local schools and promote student achievement in STEM subjects.

College of Arts and Sciences faculty are teaching the mathematical connections coursework while collaborative partners deliver real life problems in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Partners include Waste Management, Robert Crown Centers for Health Education, the DuPage Children’s Museum, and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. The program is funded through the Illinois State Board of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership Program.

Teachers are enrolled in immersion classes that take place over two summers. Teachers completed the first class during summer 2012 and will participate in the second class this summer (2013). In the subsequent school year, university faculty and partners have been visiting the teachers’ classrooms, assisting them with the implementation of new strategies and technologies they have learned. After completing the program, teachers earn six graduate hours of coursework.

Throughout the program, equipment is provided to participating teachers or is available to them on a check-out basis to assist them in their end goal. For example, teachers can check out the LabQuest 2, a hand-held device that allows students to gather data, generate plots and analyze experiments. The LabQuest 2 is portable, allowing educators to bring experimental science into the classroom or to environments outside the classroom.

First year evaluation results were positive. Teachers’ scores on pre-/post-tests of mathematical content showed improvement. In surveys, 75 percent of the teachers reported their mathematics content knowledge had improved, 88 percent felt they had increased their use of STEM technology and 84 percent reported benefiting from STEM industry experts.

Visit our website at stem.aurora.edu or watch our video of the WIP 4 to learn about the value of the program from the teachers themselves.