Thursday, November 19, 2015

Regional STEM Education Center: Teaching the Teacher

Planning is underway for the second annual STEM Teacher Academy to be held during summer 2016 at Bloomsburg University. The academy’s first session gave regional PreK-12 teachers new skills for their classrooms, with a focus on developing strategies to infuse Inquire-Based Teaching (IBT) into their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Sixteen teachers from 11 regional school districts participated in this intensive training, which was a collaborative effort between Dr. Todd Hoover, associate professor for Teaching and Learning and course instructor, and Dr. Kimberly Bolig, director of the Regional STEM Education Center, as the enrollment, logistics and facility coordinator.

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


  1. Thanks for this post is very informative and interesting.all the points are very useful. Simple but very effective writing. Thanks for sharing such a nice post.

    Stem Education

  2. It's hard to take anyone seriously who uses the term patriarchy. It's usually a dead give away that they are in an academic discipline that has nothing to do with science.
    I as the essay typer editor think the real problem with STEM education is that kids and parents are too lazy to put the time in to master mathematics. The other big problem is that there is too much book learning of experimental fields and not enough bench work. This would require lower student to teacher ratios and more money on supplies and space.
    As for children who can only learn a discipline where the practitioners look like them, the emphasis should not be on indulging their parochialism but rather on broadening their horizons to realize that it doesn't matter what you look like, rather what you do.