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Training Secondary Math and Science Teachers to Bring an Engineering Perspective to the Classroom


This paper describes the development and implementation of a NSF-supported Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program, led by a higher education core partner in partnership with fourteen core partner school districts. This MSP works to meet the growing need for engineering educated teachers who are equipped to provide learners with opportunities to achieve recently revised Ohio State Science Standards juxtaposed with Universal Skills (21st Century Learning Skills). These standards are centered in "real world application: connections to engineering." The Next Generation Science Standards raise engineering design to same level as scientific inquiry and also the new common core math standards call for students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges. To address this local, regional, state, and evolving national need, one of the programs offered in this MSP is a Summer Institute for Teachers (SIT). This paper focuses on presenting the following: the details of the development and implementation of SIT; the feedback and evaluation of this experience; the support provided to take back the SIT experience to participating teachers' classrooms and disseminate the experience locally to other teachers both locally and regionally; and lessons learned from the implementation of SIT and its academic year integration.
To address the need for a new paradigm in learning math and science using a framework of engineering education, this MSP employs a range of pedagogical approaches but emphasizes design- and challenge-based instruction in the development of a new five-course sequence in engineering and a three-course sequence in science content and pedagogy. Leveraging these eight courses in combination with existing Curriculum and Instruction Masters of Education pedagogical courses, this MSP develops and deploys two pathways for in-service teachers: Masters in Curriculum and Instruction (CI) degree with Engineering Education (MCIEE) specialization; (2) Summer Institute for Teachers (SIT) with an Engineering Education Certificate; and three pathways for pre-service teachers: MCIEE degree with licensure, dual undergraduate engineering degree with teaching licensure, and teaching licensure for professionals with a STEM undergraduate degree.
The SIT program is a complementary component to MCIEE. Each year, twenty teachers from partnering school districts who desire to become leaders in secondary engineering education are selected to participate in this intensive, seven-week summer program. Participants enroll for two consecutive summers leading to a Certificate in Engineering Education. They complete three core engineering courses, one core science course, and two electives, one in engineering and one in science. Additionally, the participants enroll in a seminar designed to coach the teachers to convert the knowledge gained during the summer into three engaging classroom units per year to increase student awareness, readiness, and disposition towards STEM. They are assisted and coached by a Resource Team of eight professionals, five K-12 education specialists and three retired engineering and scientist practitioners. The Resource Team members attend selected classroom implementations, observe videotaped instruction, and meet participants during the academic year. All teachers' units will be made available on a dedicated project website using a standard format. Preparation of SIT participants allows them to also disseminate their products locally in the district through two professional development workshops and regionally though an annual STEM conference.