Great American Teach-In Emblematic of Industry-Centric Partnerships

For a number of years, the Great American Teach-in has offered students, educators and industry professionals across the nation an opportunity to share ideas and best practices on a vast range of topics. The program has helped “learners visualize and discuss ideal learning environments” enabling the cultivation of innovators and thinkers in society. It has also prompted creation of better workplaces by empowering individuals to work as a community. (Source: Great American Teach In)

Given its emphasis on industry-centric partnerships and impact on educators on a national and statewide level, FLATE, the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in high-tech manufacturing, recently partnered with several manufacturers, industry partners and the school districts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to participate in the Great American Teach-In event for local students and educators. On November 15, more than 150 students got an up-close look at high-tech manufacturing outfits in the region, and re warding career options available to students in Florida.

FLATE partnered with the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), a leading voice for manufacturers in the greater Tampa Bay area and HSA Engineers and Scientists, a local industry partner, to give local students an overview of STEM-related careers. Steve Meitzen, past president of BAMA and director of sales and marketing at Clarison Plastics in Ocala, FL, gave 25, fourth graders from Citrus Park Elementary School, a first-hand account of high-tech manufacturing operations in the region. FLATE also partnered with HSA Engineers and Scientists, a local industry partner in Tampa, to give students enrolled in the STEM Engineering Academy at Greco Middle an in-depth look at STEM based careers. Steven Janosik, senior project engineer at HSA talked to 6th and 7th graders about the importance of STEM and showcased its applicability in every day high-tech processes. Elizabeth Heli, lead technology instructor at Greco pre-engineering STEM academy and a technology instructor for FLATE’s all girls’ robotics camps said “the presentation was wonderful,” and gave students got a first-hand view of what it takes to be an engineer.

In addition to tapping into industry expertise, FLATE professionals visited Brandon High School, Walker Middle Magnet School, Bevis Elementary School and Greco Middle School in Tampa. At Bevis Elementary School in Lithia, Nina Stokes, project manager for the FLATE-led FESC program at HCC, gave two presentations that covered topics related to energy sources, energy efficiency, recycling, and water conservation. She distributed materials and examples offering students a real-world view and applications of the concepts discussed in the presentation. According to Stokes “the kids were fascinated by the simple windmills and how they could generate electricity just by spinning the blades.”

In another “show and tell” type presentation, students at Walker Magnet Middle School were taught about recycling. “Ms. Fedna did an amazing job with the students!” said Desaray Cochron from Walker Magnet Middle School. Fedna was very hands-on, and showcased real-life examples that got students excited about recycling. At Brandon High School, Danielly Orozco & Rick Cole gave students an insider’s look at educational and career pathways in high-tech manufacturing. Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator, presented Made In Florida manufacturing resources for teachers and students. The presentation enhanced students’ understanding about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, provided insight on what it takes to become an engineer, and how programs like the FLATE-created statewide degree in engineering technology can help students pursue STEM-related careers.

“Great American Teach-In was a great collaborative success” said Dr. Marilyn Barger. Barger, principal investigator and executive director of FLATE, said the hope is “to educate and motivate students to explore unique career options in manufacturing,” and bring the world of high-tech manufacturing into the classroom of local schools.

To participate in Great American Teach-In visit For information on FLATE-led local and statewide STEM based projects contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit and

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