Fun at FLATE CAMP for Teachers

FLATE’s annual Summer Camp for Teachers provides educators with a variable topic 3-day professional
development workshop each summer. The camp is now in its 5th year. This year’s topic was “Keeping the “T” and “E” in sTEm Curriculum.” FLATE research has exposed the fact that while science and math resources are widely available for STEM curriculum, there are fewer resources available to introduce K-12 students to technology and engineering (T & E). FLATE’s summer camp for teachers was developed as one way to help fill the gap.

On day one, teachers participated in a focus group for a new FLATE Industry Connected Lesson Plan exploring and applying LED technology for a hands-on project. The lesson
presented to the group, Light Up with Technology, was focused on “T & E” and included concepts of safety and tool using, planning and making a circuit, adding a switch, and introducing conductive thread. Valuable teacher feedback included advice about vocabulary and diagrams, including higher order, inquiry-based questions, and clarity for objectives and instructions. The majority of teachers felt that they would be able to use LED concepts in creative ways with students, and at the end of day one, everyone had a hand made creation.

Day two: Run for the bus! It was discovered that for the first time, the daughter of a teacher attending the
workshop was attending FLATE’s All Girls robotics camp. Facilitators of both workshop and robotics camp made it possible at the last minute for Bhagyashree Kulkarni, to accompany her daughter, Pragnya Kulkarni, on a tour to Publix Dairy in Lakeland, FL. Kulkarni who is a chemistry teacher at Sickles High School said she was surprised by the curiosity of the students and the thought processes of students and their ability to rationalize beyond what was being shown and their ability to make critical connections which she notes is an important part of STEM. “We are heading towards a new future and we need girls to be engaged in STEM, but we also need boys to be part of the STEM workforce” said Kulkarni.

Meanwhile, teachers explored the high tech Engineering Technology lab at HCC, gained a better
understanding of the importance to today’s students for consideration of technical careers, and packed their curriculum toolkit with free resources. In the afternoon, teachers worked in groups using the engineering process to integrate sTEm into mainstream curriculum. “I can definitely see, after talking to my colleagues how I can integrate it to the curriculum for lower grades” said Danielly Sindelar, K-8 gifted program teacher at Turner Bartel Middle Schools. “We do a lot of STEM design challenges and I think this workshop presented some pretty interesting ideas” Sindelar said.

On the final day, the grant writing presentation examined strategies for funding sTEm classroom activities. One repeat camper from 2013 told how she had written a successful grant after last year’s camp! When asked why she wished to repeat the camp since the grant writing presentation was the same, she shared that she “enjoys talking to other teachers in the open atmosphere of the camp, looks forward to  integrating STEM into the regular classroom, and was looking for additional tips in grant writing.”  In fact, networking with others and the grant writing portion of the workshop was the most popular among participants “I enjoyed the discussion and input from all the participants. I am taking back many ideas for engagement for my students. I also learned some new vocabulary for engineering.”

The workshop ended with a robotic arm competition. Teachers were tasked with homework: to build a
working robotic arm from “found items” such as coat hangers and paper towel tubes. Complete lesson plans for the “the arm” are provided to take back to the classroom. One teacher who had worked on a similar project prior to the camp stated that he took “found items” a step further by asking students to use only recycled items! Finally, teachers are surveyed on a scale of 1-5 (overall workshop: 4.0 - very good) and are asked what other workshops they would be interested in attending. “Robotics” is the most popular response. We invite you to keep an eye our web page where upcoming workshops are posted, and we hope to see you at a FLATE professional development workshop.

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