The teachers spent the first week of the academy at the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, recognized as one of America’s best programs for educators. Its professional programs are Act 48-approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Dr. David Smith, senior director of science and strategic initiatives for the Da Vinci Science Center and recipient of the National Science Teachers Association’s Distinguished Informal Science Educator in 2014, and Ms. Karen Knecht, director of education and exhibits at the Da Vinci Science Center since 2010, comprised the center’s professional development team. Participants in the STEM Teacher Academy were trained using IBT curriculum developed by San Francisco’s Exploratorium Teacher Institute. They interacted with exhibits, engaged in hands-on classroom activities, and shared teaching strategies. Dr. Hoover oversaw the week of training and coordinated information with the rest of the course.
Dr. Hoover continued to instruct participants in IBT methodology through the creation of lesson plans and curriculum during the second week of the academy, held on BU’s campus. In addition, the participants received a full day of training on The Power of Micromessages, provided by National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). Micromessages are defined as conscious and unconscious words and actions, such as facial expressions, gestures or tone of voice that, over time, can affect students’ self-concept or self-efficacy and influence career choice. NAPE developed a research-based professional development program for educators that employs micromessages to improve classroom pedagogy and increase the enrollment, retention, performance, and completion of underrepresented students in nontraditional careers. This inclusive professional development solution is designed to help educators address specific school needs related to equitable learning environments, student academic success and readiness to pursue high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers.
In evaluations conducted at the end of the STEM Teacher Academy, participants expressed appreciation for the academy’s organization, content level, and professional development opportunity. One participant stated it was “definitely one of the best professional development experiences I’ve had.” Additional evaluation was provided through student reflection papers. Students were graded on their ability to incorporate IBT into their curriculum through their final project and received three college credits from BU upon successful completion of the academy.
Bloomsburg University and the Regional STEM Education Center received a grant from the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation to partially cover the cost for the Teacher STEM Academy.
— Kimberly Bolig, Director, Regional STEM Education Center
and Todd Hoover, Associate Professor, Teaching and Learning