FLATE’s Wiki: Your One-Stop-Spot for Accessing Enriching, STEM-based Resources

       One of the challenging goals for educators is to offer authentic learning activities, and to engage students with relevant content. This can be especially difficult for STEM instructors when the property, principle, or structure students are investigating can only be observed with advanced scientific instruments or specialized materials that are too costly for the ordinary classroom. FLATE’s Made in Florida lesson plans provide students with real-world scenarios relevant to high-tech manufacturers throughout Florida. Each Made in Florida lesson plan gives teachers the materials needed to engage students with authentic and sometimes unresolved challenges faced by manufacturers in the region, and provides print-ready resources such as handouts, worksheets,rubrics,timelines,and other educator supported material. 

        FLATE’s Wiki is a rich storehouse of information designed to provide an array of resources to enrich understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). While most resources support science and mathematics, FLATE resources integrate a focus on the technology and engineering side of STEM. Information posted on the Wiki is free and available online 24/7 with easily accessible, print-ready materials. The Wiki offers up-to-date content and concepts from activities, and lesson plans suitable for middle and high school students designed to foster problem based learning (PBL), to high-tech presentations in mechatronics and other advanced technologies offered internationally. The range of Wiki resources are replete with career and education planning tools and worksheets. Teacher support materials and information are also provided as pre and post Made in Florida industry tour FLATE lesson plans to help students make the most of these exciting tours.

The Chocolate Factory lesson plan for high school and middle school students, for example, provides innovative ideas for stirring interest in STEM. The lesson challenges students to determine general properties of melting points and emulsions while learning how to make their own chocolate bar. Danielly Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator who served as a principal in designing the challenge says “students gain a deeper understanding of science, chemistry, mathematics and technology through these fun, hands-on exercises.” Students learn how to measure temperature, understand and apply properties of melting point and emulsions to a real product, and better understand the role of research and development as well as develop problem solving and teamwork skills. They are also introduced to key manufacturing processes such as designing, fabricating, testing, and developing abilities to assess the impact of products in the market. 

  Another lesson, featuring Florida manufacturer Sun Hydraulics Corporation, helps students understand general properties of matter through “hands-on, minds-on” problem-based learning. Given the integral role of design in the manufacturing process and the interest of many students in computer aided design and manufacturing, FLATE has designed a new lesson plan for high school students incorporating the use of SolidWorks in office architecture design. Through this lesson, students are introduced to basic concepts of drafting/technical drawing. Students also gain deeper insight about the importance of measurement, and learn about precision and logistics in the design and drawing of an architectural/engineering space. In this lesson, students gain a better understanding of matter by comparing mass and weight, striking a relation between volume and density, learning the importance of selecting appropriate unit systems, and manipulating variables to achieve desired computational outcomes. FLATE’s award winning, ready-to-use curriculum modules are aligned with Sunshine State Standards and are unique in that they feature real manufacturing scenarios based on actual Florida advanced manufacturers. Thus allowing students to see real and relevant applications of STEM concepts applied to practical applications found in the high-tech, high-skilled workplace.

            In keeping with the demand for alternative energy sources and subsequent demand for trained technicians, FLATE has taken a leading step partnering with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) in developing an alternative/renewable energy specialization for the two year A.S. degree in Engineering Technology. Presentation-ready modules are posted on the Wiki which were developed for use in an introductory level 3-credit-hour course. Modules include solar energy, wind energy, photovoltaics, hydro energy, energy storage, and energy economics and policies, to name just a few titles. Hot topic subjects such as alternative energy provide fertile ground for today’s STEM students and the educators who teach them.

Indeed, FLATE‘s STEM oriented curriculum resources are easily integrated into mainstream curriculum. To support the effective use of materials and concepts for technology education, and in support of advanced manufacturing education state wide, professional development opportunities where K-20 STEM educators develop, refine or certify their knowledge base within manufacturing and its enabling technologies are offered year ‘round by FLATE.

For more information on FLATE’s Wiki, contact Danielly Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator at orozco@fl-ate.org, and Nina Stokes, FESC project manager at stokes@fl-ate.org. To explore and utilize FLATE’s free STEM based resources, visit http://flate.pbworks.com, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.

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