Teachers explore engineering, coding at STEM Summer Institute

More than 60 educators spent the first week in August exploring ways to implement science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities in their classrooms.

The emphasis of the STEM Summer Institute, which was hosted by Office of Innovative Curriculum and held at the Kingdom Builders Center, was on building capacity in engineering, coding, and robotics, as well as 3D printing. The goal is to implement components of the program in third- through eighth-grade classrooms throughout the district.

Baylor College of Medicine’s Greg Vogt and Barbara Tharp, authors of the resource, Think Like an Engineer, worked with the teachers in a series of activities using the “engineering design loop.”

“I can certainly use this design challenge when teaching force and motion and also forms of energy with my students,” said Sherri Drew, a fifth-grade science teacher at Southmayd Elementary School.

The teachers explored coding programs, including Scratch and Turtle Art, which helped them execute specific robotic code commands.

“This will be a great way for my students to show what they have learned at the culmination of a unit of study,” said Carolyn Collins, a science lab teacher at Mading Elementary School. “They can create a story using Scratch depicting the different types of ecosystems, organisms within them, and even food chains.”

Teachers also spent time with their grade-level teams previewing the Cycle 1 STEM design challenges that will be rolled out in classrooms this fall. The teachers ended the institute with a 3D printing session and the creation of a plan to share their experiences with other teachers on their campuses.

The teachers who participated were nominated by a campus administrator and will serve as their campus’ STEM Cadre leader. All of the participating schools were awarded part of the Teacher Incentive Fund federal grant.

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