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Summer Institute Teaches Engineering to Cincinnati STEM Educators

Cincinnati area teachers are getting a heavy dose of STEM to pump up their math and science teaching methods in a multi-year program run by a cross-disciplinary team at the University of Cincinnati. CEEMS, the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Mathematics & Science Partnership, brings new and experienced middle and high school educators together for seven weeks over two summers to teach them strategies to better engage their students in STEM subjects.

stem teaching hands on learning in CEEMS
The mission: Using nothing but paper, cups and straws, build a structure that will guide a ping pong ball to the ground as slowly as possible.

The Summer Institute for Teachers, led by the university's College of Engineering and Applied Science, won a five-year, $9.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 2011. Also participating are faculty from the College of Education, Criminal Justice & Human Services and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

CEEMS' approach is to show teachers how to use "challenge-based learning" in their science, technology, engineering and math subjects to help students see the real-world applications of what they're learning. Core courses in the program include engineering foundations, applications of technology, engineering applications in math and models and applications in physical sciences.

For example, a recent day started with a discussion of engineering design that included a mapping for the participants between those conceptual ideas and secondary math and science instruction. Then the teachers got to work. Teams were designated and given a mission: using nothing but paper, cups and straws, they had to build a structure that would guide a ping pong ball to the ground as slowly as possible. When the testing began, they appraised the competition and analyzed others' approaches. Later they huddled in their teams to perfect their designs. As the work went on, they shared ideas on how they expected to apply the same activities in their own classrooms.

Teachers also present lessons plans in their subjects and share their intentions for engaging classes with interactive projects based on what they've learned.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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