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STEM-focused Christa McAuliffe Center Continues Teacher Ed Work with PTC

A STEM-focused teaching center at Framingham State University in Massachusetts will shortly open its registration process for summer 2014. The Christa McAuliffe Center, which has been supporting teachers in professional development related to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), puts on an annual STEM Certification Program with support from PTC, a company that provides products and services to help manufacturers create and maintain products.

The certificate program has several goals: to help teachers become "technically literate" and learn how to integrate the concepts of product development into their instruction; to equip teachers with STEM tools and practices for designing and customizing STEM curriculum; to help teachers integrate technology into project-based instruction; and to engage industry professionals.

Teachers who complete the two- to three-month blended program receive a PTC software package worth $50,000 along with other benefits, such as the opportunity to qualify their school to become a PTC STEM Academy facility, which comes with a software grant. Last year's summer program was heavily subsidized by PTC, and the cost per teacher was set at $500. The price for the next session hasn't been announced yet.

One example of how the professional development has been used in the classroom is at Glenwood Elementary in Rutland, MA, where third-grade teacher Kristine Thayer has helped her students explore the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly using 3D visualization technology provided by PTC. The students can examine an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly in a virtual environment that protects living butterflies while still providing a virtual "hands-on" experience in the classroom.

While most teachers have come from Massachusetts schools, including Weston Public Schools and Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth, that isn't a requirement.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.