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PSU, PHS test STEM teaching methods

April 22, 2013 12:00AM

It’s commonly accepted that the fields of science, technology, engineering and math are becoming increasingly important to a students’ education and opportunities in the workforce. What’s not so commonly accepted is the best way to implement what’s referred to as STEM education into classrooms at the K-12 and university levels.

On Tuesday, April 23, students and faculty from Pittsburg State University and Pittsburg High School will begin a project aimed at finding the most effective methods of delivery of STEM education in southeast Kansas schools. The project will take place at Pittsburg High School’s Center of Applied Learning technology lab.

Dubbed the i-STEM Project, the goal of the 10-day activity is to test a variety of creative teaching strategies and methods that are effective and could be easily replicated in other schools. The project was designed by STEM educators at PSU and PHS, as well as students in PSU’s Contextual Topics in Technology Class, taught by assistant professor Mike Neden.

“The purpose of the project is to show students why STEM education is important and relevant to their current and future lives,” Neden said. “A lot of times we’ll teach a concept, the kids will never use it, and so they forget it. What we want to do is teach these concepts in a way that actually means something to the students and use real-life scenarios to show them how and why it matters.”

More than 65 PHS freshmen will participate in the project, which will be conducted in 10 50-minute class periods. Each student will spend three full class periods in each STEM area and a final, culminating assessment session.

The project will center around the AeroMax at Gorilla Gulch, a motorized ramp for model cars that was designed and built by PSU technology students.

“The idea is that by using this ramp our students built, we can reinforce the STEM concepts by showing their practical use,” Neden said. “It’s just one way that we can help all of the students make sense of what we’re teaching and show them how that knowledge is used in the real world.”

After the project, the i-STEM teams will meet to determine the next phase of the project for the following school year.

©2013 Pittsburg State University

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