Teaching Teachers about STEM

July 7, 2016 - Teaching STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – courses to K-12 students is becoming increasingly essential in today’s hi-tech world. Local teachers from throughout Orange County got a crash course last week, along with some helpful tips, when they attended a workshop at UC Irvine hosted by the OC STEM Ecosystem Institute, a partnership of stakeholders invested in STEM teaching and learning in Orange County.

The focus was creating and nurturing STEM-rich partnerships. More than 120 participants started the day by competing in a hands-on mini-challenge, performing a series of tasks using a cardboard robotic hand. Adrenaline revved, teams tried to place cotton balls in plastic cups, flip cups upside down and stack them in the fastest time.

Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington welcomed the teachers to UCI and applauded their efforts. Teachers also listened to a presentation by Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; experimented with Raspberry Pi mini-computer boards and Scratch software; and were treated to an entertaining talk by Broadcom master engineer Mark Castruita, who shared his experiences growing up in an educationally underserved area before going on to Boston University and a distinguished career. “I still don’t see a lot of guys who look like me in engineering … that’s why I’m here today,” he told the teachers.

The workshop also included breakout sessions with local organizations including Bedtime Math, Girls Inc., 4H of Orange County, Ocean Institute, First Robotics, Encorps and Pretend City.

The event concluded with tours of maker lab FabWorks and a reception in the Calit2 Building.

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