This past summer, Questar III’s STEM Research Institute celebrated its tenth year offering educators from around the Capital Region rewarding summer professional development experiences.
Working with a variety of STEM business and higher education institutions, STEM Research Fellows worked side by side with mentors, participating in a variety of research and work-related activities that expanded their understanding of how the content and concepts they teach in the classroom is applied in various industries and research.
For seven weeks, the Fellows were immersed in work activities relative to either architecture, machine learning, nanotechnology, ecological research and the managing/treatment of hazardous industrial waste manufactured into building materials. For these teachers, although daunting at first, as the weeks went by, the work became more rewarding as they grew more comfortable with the projects they were involved in.
According to Institute Program Director Jane King, it’s the diversity of work experiences that the program offers and the teacher feedback shared at weekly workshop meetings describing activities and research they’re participating that she finds inspiring.
“The Stem Research Institute provides teachers the opportunity to relate the content they teach to the current STEM workforce as they design lessons and learning experiences for their students. SRI participants gain insight and skills enabling them to promote and motivate students to pursue the vast opportunities the STEM work place offers.”
Science teacher Will Yarberry’s research opportunity is a good example; working at UAlbany, Yarberry was part of a research team working on new technology development in the world of 3-D printing and machine learning, technology that will be an integral part of the future in STEM.
“This type of experience is, quite frankly, necessary to teach the class that I do. My class focuses on training future engineers, and the only reason I can effectively teach it is the fact that I was working as an engineer two years ago,” Yarberry said. “As I get farther out, my connection to current trends, best practices, industry norms, etc. becomes weaker. This program has been a powerful refresher on how things are done in the real world.”
Although these work opportunities are enlightening for teachers, those who benefit most are their students, who have new lesson plans introduced in the classroom based on the latest research and work applications that helps connect student learning to the STEM world.
Questar III would like to thank the following businesses and institutions, as well as their staff who mentored teachers this summer:
- Hyman Hayes Architecture
- Norlite Lightweight Aggregate, LLC
- UAlbany College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Capital Corals