Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD), a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), was host to a first of its kind weeklong summer institute for high school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers, June 28 - July 2, at the West Bethesda installation.
"The goal of the institute is to expose teachers to the real-world of engineering so that they can bring relevance to the material they are teaching their students," said Toby Ratcliffe, NSWCCD's outreach coordinator and event hostess. "This is the first year of the institute and Carderock plans to continue this summer institute next year, and expand to other local school districts throughout the area."
For the initial summer institute, high school teachers from Maryland's Montgomery County and the District of Columbia were invited to Carderock to get a tour of the facilities in which the scientists and engineers work, and to receive information on how to incorporate science and technology (S&T) mentoring programs into their schools. The institute was also designed to bring teachers into the world of naval engineering for a week, and to begin to foster a relationship for the upcoming school year. After attending the institute and getting a better appreciation of local S&T facilities, the teachers were encouraged to bring their students to other local engineering work spaces, such as the David Taylor Model Basin; meet scientists and engineers in person; and provide engineering mentors and volunteers in the classroom, when needed.
During the session, the teachers were able to learn about the equipment that is provided by the Navy's partner in promoting STEM education in the classrooms, the National Defense Education Program (NDEP), and experience a more hands-on engineering though use of Vernier Labquest data loggers and scientific probeware, LABVIEW data collection software, Calculator-Controlled Robots, and a small rapid prototyping machine, called a MakerBot, which the students will learn to use during mentoring process for the upcoming school year.
With majority of the teachers already teach engineering, Carderock mentors hopes all of the teachers learned some interesting engineering principles from the institute, which will aid them in embracing the adolescences'' interesting in S&T, Ratcliffe said.
During the institute, Anthony Leone, a teacher from Quince Orchard High School in Maryland, expressed an interest in creating "an emphasis for future technical advances within the classroom." He added that he will apply the knowledge that he learned from this summer institute and use it to excite students about engineering.
Another teacher attending the institute, Andre Weichbrod, a teacher from Clarksburg High School, asked one question that his students most frequently ask in his classroom, "when will we use 'this' in the real world?" to Ratcliffe and other Carderock mentors. Ratcliffe answered "we will strive to help students recognize the importance of engineering in our society through STEM and the programs that we will introduce to them."
"We will give them equipment for the classroom, through our partnership with NDEP, and some ideas for incorporating these materials into their current curriculum," Ratcliffe said. "They learned both the kinds of research which we do here at Carderock, and they learned about equipment and software which could be used to enhance their teaching."
"Math and science take a role in students everyday lives outside of school, these areas of STEM [education] help with defining a problem and finding a logical solution," said Eugenia Chiu, a teacher from Thomas S. Wootton High School in Maryland.
"This type of program opens up doors," said Marty Nelson, a teacher from Quince Orchard High School, who believes that later in life outreach prepares students to have a future in the array of engineering fields."