Executive Director’s Call to Recognize “The Heroes of Manufacturing”

“Great job” is a phrase all of us like to hear. Kids need to hear it in school when they master new concepts, athletes thrive on it, and scholars revel in being acknowledged for their accomplishments. Closer to home, all of us like to be recognized for our contributions to our work teams’ accomplishments, and teachers like to be recognized for the hard work they do every day educating our youth. One important (and rewarding) aspect of our “Made in Florida” outreach effort is our FLATE awards program. It is part of our multi-pronged approach to raising manufacturing’s visibility in Florida, and celebrating its value to our state’s economy.

2011 is the fifth year FLATE has offered its Education Awards program. Each year, one secondary (7-12) educator and one post-secondary (technical school or community/state college) educator is named as the “Manufacturing Educator of Year” in each of these two categories. A third FLATE award recognizes an industry partner who has strongly supported his or her local educational institution(s). The FLATE industry Partner award honors individuals working in industry who give time, talent, resources, expertise, and/or other efforts to his or her local technical program that supports any aspect of manufacturing business sectors. All three award winners are recognized at the Manufacturers’ Association of Florida (MAF) Presidents Banquet during their annual Summit and Global Marketplace. Winners are announced in early October. All winners are brought to the MAF Summit in Orlando for the banquet, and receive a recognition piece and thanks from our industry sponsors.

In today’s uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to recognize those educators who are doing more than required for their students. There are educators everywhere who are enriching students’ lives and education with meaningful experiences in and outside of their classroom beyond what they have to do. We all know they are continuing to do these things with less support than they have had in the past. Please help us recognize these special people!

Nominations for FLATE’s educator of the year award and industry partner award can be done easily either online, or on a downloadable form. The questions are short and to the point. The whole process takes fewer than 15 minutes. Nominations for the 2011 awards program are open through August 31; winners are chosen by our industry advisory committee and are announced in early October. Please take a few moments to nominate an educator or industry partner you know who deserves recognition. (http://fl-ate.org/projects/awards.html)

The longest day has come and gone and summer is nearly half over. FLATE has been very busy with our summer robotics camps program and a lot of sector specific, content based professional development for teachers and faculty. Read all about it in this month’s FLATE Focus. And, for the 20th time, don’t forget the sTEm puzzle – which marks nearly 2 years of FLATE’s continued focus on the importance of integrating science, technology, engineering, and math and trying not to let the four individual disciplines wander off on their own.

Alternative Energy: It’s Hot!

What would a greener Florida look like? As the state grapples to position itself as a leader in the development and production of alternative energy technologies, local organizations like FLATE are stepping up education and workforce development efforts to help meet Florida’s 2020 energy strategy (More information at FESC). This summer FLATE held, for the first time, energy camps for teachers and students. The camps were held June 20-23 at the South Shore Campus of Hillsborough Community College, and involved 14 students from Beth Shields Middle School in Ruskin, and 17 high school teachers from 12 schools in Hillsborough County, FL.

The energy camp for students, a pilot project funded by the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, was funded through FLATE and FESC (Florida Energy Systems Consortium) a consortium of Florida college and universities established by the Florida Legislature, and was part of a network of energy-related camps that are being offered simultaneously at Tallahassee Community College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville. The camp featured a number of hands-on activities that included: greenhouse gas simulation exercises; demonstrations of Jensen electric generator; photovoltaic, magnets/magnetic fields demonstrations, and demonstrations of wind and fuel cell car technologies. Emely Ramirez and Brian Sanchez, seventh graders at Beth Shields Middle School said the activities were “fun and cool, yet challenging.” Other hands-on activities included constructing a simple motor, a windmill generator, and conducting a test run baking cookies using a solar oven.

Campers also received an overview of fossil fuels, its impact on the environment, were introduced to the science of electricity generation, and learned about solar, thermal, wind, ocean energies, fuel cells and home efficiency. Andrea Hemphil, middle school science teacher in Sarasota County, FL described the experience as a good blend of exposure to alternative energy. “They did through their everyday exercises/lessons what scientists do every single day in the lab.” Hemphill hopes the exposure will get them excited about the possibilities that college education can offer, and encourage them to “work in fields that are related to alternative/renewable energy technologies.”

The energy camp for teachers was a 15 contact hour in-service professional development workshop focused on STEM curriculum and problem based learning applied in the context of alternative energy. Dr. Marie Boyette, associate director of FLATE, described the camp as an effective resource for teachers to add to their teaching tool kit. Boyette, who has been a leading force in initiating the teacher camps since 2010 said the “teachers had fun learning how to effectively integrate STEM concepts into the everyday curriculum, all the while exploring how to use educational technologies in developing usable STEM lesson plans that would enable participants to become practitioners of problem-based/experiential learning.”

The camp was a rich storehouse of information/resources that teachers could take back to the classroom. Exercises included current technology applications for teaching energy-related curriculum, exploration and observation of LEED and solar roof applications, and other hands-on, experiential activities such as the potential and kinetic energy lessons using a solar powered grasshopper. Dennis Vallianatos, who teachers physical science, earth space and general chemistry at Lennard High School and Marcus Beard, Chemistry Honors and Physical Science teacher at East Bay High School described the camp as a good fit, as the content correlated to several parts of the course they were going to teach in the next academic year. Vallianatos and Beard agree teachers “need these kind of opportunities so we can be informed, and ensure the students we teach can stay ahead of the game.”

The three day camp also expanded participants’ understanding of energy as a manufactured product through fun, hands-on STEM centered activities that encouraged exploration of new technology applications. Participants got the opportunity to add resources/content developed by engineers and curriculum/instruction experts to their teaching toolbox, engaged in a grant writing workshop as well as soft skill building activities, and witnessed first-hand, alternative technology at work via a tour of TECO’s Manatee viewing center. To that effect, Valliantos commended the camps role in bringing alternative energy into the classroom. “It’s all about the hard bills” he said. “If we can make students understand they can earn more money doing these kinds of jobs it is going to fire up their interest/desire to pursue a track in high-tech fields.”

The FLATE-FESC partnership is part of a statewide initiative to support industries in the existing and emerging energy sectors by defining the knowledge and skills required for their technician workforce. Since 2009, FLATE has been working with community colleges across Florida to define curriculum standards for alternative energy that support industry needs. “Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE hopes “with the industry support of the FESC Advisory Committee and their community outreach programs for energy efficiency, FLATE’s partnerships with the Florida Department of Education, and the Banner Centers for Energy, Alternative Energy, Manufacturing and Construction we hope to build a comprehensive and cohesive educational and industry pathway for Florida’s new energy workforce.”

For information on FESC initiatives, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org. For information about FLATE’s energy camp, contact Jorge Monreal at 813.259.6587/monreal@fl-at.org. For information on FLATE’s professional development opportunities for teachers, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at 813.259.6578/barger@fl-ate.org or Dr. Marie Boyette at boyette@fl-ate.org.

FLATE Workshops: An Effective Resource in Meeting Local Training and Educational Demands

FLATE’s vision to provide relevant information on educational best practices and state of the art technologies has been an effective resource in supporting educational and workforce demands of the high performance production and manufacturing community in Florida. As a leader in providing technician training, the Center facilitated several workshops this summer geared to expand the knowledge base of manufacturing and/or related technologies for students and educators at the middle school, high school and post secondary level.

The DNA Fingerprinting and Micropipetting workshop for secondary school teachers developed on the framework of the of National Science Education guidelines, was held in June at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Brandon, and involved 17 teachers from Hillsborough County. The driving force behind the workshop was to encourage participants to use DNA based labs in everyday classroom curriculum. Debarati Ghosh, biology and biotechnology instructor and biotechnology program manager at HCC-Brandon said the workshop was designed to simulate human forensic testing, and to discuss a wide range of applications of DNA analysis for genetic analysis. The workshop was well founded in STEM content to promote high-quality, hands-on DNA fingerprinting professional development course for high school teachers.

Teachers Debarati Ghosh and
Beth McCollough prepare for the
 A critical component of the workshop was to foster scientific/technological innovations, and highlight the necessity of scientific literacy and successful scientific inquiry in grades 9-12. “Determining the range of the data, the mean and mode values of the data, plotting the data, developing mathematical functions from the data, and looking for anomalous data are all examples of analyses that students need to learn” Gosh said. To that extent, the workshop emphasized the critical understanding of evidence and data analysis. The hands-on portion of the laboratory was aimed at developing fundamental abilities of micropipetting techniques, as well as the larger framework for developing reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and conducting scientific investigations. The workshop also focused on reviewing and etablishing adequate knowledge base in biology, chemistry and molecular biology concepts of DNA to support investigation and help develop scientific explanations.

Indeed the workshop was deemed highly resourceful by participants. One hundred percent of the participants agreed, or strongly agreed the workshop was of high value to them, the content was relevant, and that they gained new insights. The same percentage also agreed/strongly agreed they would be interested in follow-up activities, and would recommend the workshop to their colleagues. As pointed out by Ghosh “Science continues to play an essential role in catalyzing the creation of new industries, spawning job growth, and improving the quality of life in the state and throughout the nation. Innovation relies, in part, on students possessing the knowledge, skills, creativity, and foresight to forge new paths for the future.”

In addition to the biotech workshop, FLATE was invited to share its expertise to support the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) camp for Title 1 schools in Pinellas County, FL. Camp STEAM which was primarily a middle school mathematics summer camp was designed to ignite interest in mathematics and/or mathematical applications among middle school students. The camp was held at Pinellas Park Middle School, and involved 108 middle school students and 20 middle school mathematics teachers. At the camp, FLATE played a pivotal role in broadening students’ and educators’ knowledge about high-tech manufacturing, and the educational and career pathways available to them. Campers received in-depth overview of how “stuff is made” through a hands-on activity that required them to innovate, design, test, and market/distribute a prototype of a product. Working in groups of four, students underwent each of the manufacturing processes to sketch out a “new invention.”

At the conclusion of the exercise, campers presented their ideas and explained the integration of STEAM, soft skills and teamwork during the manufacturing process. Danielly Orozco, curriculum coordinator for FLATE who facilitated the FLATE presentation and the manufacturing exercise said “students used their imagination and knowledge of STEAM to work through the assigned tasks. More importantly they learned how adapting to change, respecting and listening to one another are keys to success as well doing a good job.”

For more information on the DNA Fingerprinting and Micropipetting workshop for educators or the STEAM camps contact Dr. Marilyn at barger@fl-ate.org and Danielly Orozco at dorozco@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.fl-ate.org/.

sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #20: Atmosphere Data Analysis

A technician working with a NASA high altitude balloon for atmospheric temperature data collection has transferred the transmitted data from the sensor system in the balloon into a data analysis computer software package. The software plot shows the pressure and temperature axes pointing toward higher values. The graph has pressure and temperature data relative to the altitude above sea level when the measurements were made. The tech elected to use the horizontal axis, the abscissa, for the altitude data. Now the tech must indicate if the arrow on the abscissa is pointing toward higher, or lower altitude values. The tech has labeled the abscissa based on his knowledge that the pressure of the atmosphere is always inversely proportional to the altitude above sea level.

The arrow on the abscissa is pointing toward higher altitude values. (yes or no).

Discuss and submit your answers in the "comments section" below, or at http://www.fl-ate.org/

A Feather on FLATER's Hat

FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education) Center recently received STEMflorida, Inc.’s “Best Practice Award for Excellence Integrating Needs of STEM-Enabled Programs into Engaging Curriculum and Educational Outreach Resources.” The award was presented on June 24 during the STEM Florida Think Tank at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport in Orlando, FL., and recognized FLATE’s role in spearheading efforts to launch a national, industry-recognized, STEM-focused credential system that supports the educational and workforce needs of local manufacturers.

FLATE promulgates the idea that STEM provides our future workforce with the skills they need to achieve academically now, and excel professionally later. Since the establishment of the Center in 2004, FLATE has served as a leader in creating relevant educational programs such as the statewide A.S. degree in Engineering Technology, manufacturing industry focused lesson plans, and professional development opportunities. The Center has also provided succinct classroom and/or homework vignettes to support K-20 science and math instruction while demonstrating how math and science are means to developing engineering-related concepts. Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE says “By implementing this system we are employing industry’s voice and expertise to provide competency-based, customized education and training for the manufacturing workforce.”

For information on the award, and FLATE’s curriculum and/or professional development resources contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at HCC-Brandon at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit http://www.fl-ate.org/.