Faculty provide hands-on instruction at summer science academy

Faculty provide hands-on instruction at summer science academy

By University Communications
August 22, 2013
K-5 teachers create a model food web

Photo: K-5 teachers create a model food web

University of Wisconsin-Stout faculty members have been busy this summer doing what they do best — providing hands-on instruction.

Charles Bomar, interim dean of College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; Kevin Mason, School of Education; and Adam Kramschuster, engineering and technology, participated in an Advanced Science Learning Summer Academy held July 8-12 at CESA 11 in Turtle Lake.

CESA stands for Cooperative Educational Service Agency.  

The academy brought in 60 K-5 teachers to improve their science knowledge and teaching skills. The focus of the academy was life science.  

The teachers were from the northwestern Wisconsin school districts of Amery, Chetek-Weyerhaeuser, Ellsworth, Grantsburg, Hudson, Osceola, Pepin, St. Croix Central, St. Croix Falls, Rice Lake, Turtle Lake and Unity.   

The academy is part of the three-year Advanced Science Learning Grant funded by the ESEA Title IIA — Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 — Wisconsin Improving Teacher Quality Program that the university and CESA 11 recently received. The academy is one of the components of the grant project.  

The academy will focus on a different aspect of science each year. Physical science will be in 2014 and earth science in 2015, the final year of the project.  

Each day teachers received content information and participated in engineering activities. For example, they used their knowledge of biology to design a hand pollinator, an artificial membrane, a knee brace and an oil spill clean-up device.

“This type of academy is a great way to provide elementary teachers with the training and support they need to teach science more effectively,” Mason said. “I'm really excited to see the teachers engage their students in doing science and engineering in the elementary classroom.”  

The $476, 583 grant is to be divided over three years. The goals are to increase science content knowledge, establish a long-term professional collaborative relationship between grant participants and partners, increase science-teaching skills and improve student achievement in science.  

“The project has grown out of the regional need for a more clearly defined approach to science for our elementary educators,” said Anne Wallisch, Educational Consultant at CESA 11, grant director and academy teacher.

Other UW-Stout faculty participants are Jo Hopp, physics, who will teach in the second academy and Matt Kuchta, also in physics, who will teach in the third academy.  

Mason and Kramschuster will provide support for the duration of the grant.   

A feature of the grant is support from the participating UW-Stout faculty during the school year as teachers implement what they learned in the academy, Mason explained.

Teachers also learn about science and engineering practices, how to use interactive science and engineering notebooks and are introduced to the Engineering is Elementary curriculum developed by the Museum of Science, Boston.  

In addition to the academies and support, the program includes a one-day professional Learning Community Visions Conference and a two-day Assessment and Data Retreat Celebration Hands-on, Minds-on Workshop.