This past summer, 13 teachers from around the country and from right here at D-E joined us in our STEM Institute professional development workshop. Over a three-day period, these teachers worked through an intense but fun curriculum that included physical computing, digital fabrication, and project-based learning. Working with FabLearn Fellow Kevin Jarrett and D-E’s own Technology Director, Trevor Shaw, the participants worked together to construct autonomous, Arduino-controlled robotic vehicles. Participants designed the chassis of the vehicles themselves and cut them out of wood using D-E’s new Helix laser cutter / engraver. They also learned some fundamentals of electronics and some programming in order to build a vehicle that could successfully solve a challenge.
More important than the technical skills, the teachers also strengthened their skills for managing a student-centered classroom. The workshop ran at the same time as one of our STEM Challenge workshops for middle school students. Therefore, the teachers had the opportunity to observe how tools such as these can be implemented in a classroom with real students. This hands-on approach to working with the tools combined with the observation of young students going through the process helps teachers imagine how to bring projects like this to life in their own classrooms.
As a side benefit, by participating in the workshop, teachers received professional development credits.
Based on its success, STEM Institute will be offered again in July 2019. Adult learners from all professional backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply! For details and to register online, visit de360.d-e.org or call 201-227-3144.