Sixth annual Teacher Summit draws high school teachers from 54 Texas school districts

Teacher Summit 5The Dwight Look College of Engineering and College of Science at Texas A&M University hosted more than 100 high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers from across Texas to participate in the sixth annual Teacher Summit, held at the College Station Hilton and Conference Center on January 25, 2013.

The purpose of Teacher Summit is to increase awareness in STEM in high schools; provide high school teachers with materials that can be implemented in their high school curriculum; educate high school teachers, counselors and administrators about how to best prepare their students for success in engineering and science at Texas A&M; and provide participants opportunities to interact with Texas A&M faculty, staff and students involved in STEM outreach programs.

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, kicked off the Teacher Summit followed by Dr. Robin Autenrieth, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the Dwight Look College of Engineering and Dr. Timothy Scott, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Science. The three administrators stressed the importance of properly preparing high school students for success in a STEM major and applauded the teacher’s efforts to attend the summit in order to better serve their students.

Dr. Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at the Texas A&M University System, spoke during the General Session about research and education. Specifically, he focused on how “STEM education will save the world from the next pandemic”, which was also the title of his presentation. Dr. Giroir gave the audience a look into vaccine development, the rapid growth of therapeutics manufacturing at Texas A&M University and the importance of engineers in the medical industry. 

The daylong conference gave each participant the opportunity to experience four hands-on workshops. These workshops included a session about plastics for the body, offered by Dr. Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez and her graduate students, Mary Beth Browning and Jenny Robinson from the department of biomedical engineering. In the workshop, teachers were able to combine principles of chemistry and math into engineering design of plastic materials that can be used in the body with specific examples on wound healing and drug delivery. Dr. Louis Nadelson, from the College of Education at Boise State University and Anne Seifert, acting director of education programs at the Idaho National Laboratory, presented a session on integrating STEM through engineering design challenges. Teachers worked on two engineering challenges that utilized a wide range of domain specific content. After completing the challenges, the teachers reflected on their experience and explored the variety of STEM content that could be taught in the classroom. Dr. Kristin Maitland, from the department of biomedical engineering and her graduate student, Meagan Harris, offered a workshop on optics using optical demonstrations that incorporated fundamental trigonometry, chemistry and physics concepts. Mr. Armando Vital, a math teacher at Veterans High School in Brownsville, Texas, gave a presentation on DNA comparison that combined Algebra I with the engineering design process, an activity he developed while participating in the Enrichment Experiences in Engineering (E3), an NSF-funded program at TAMU.

Christina Tribble, a ninth and twelfth grade biology teacher from Haltom High School in Haltom City, Texas and first time attendee to Teacher Summit, said that many teachers feel tired from their routine this time of year however, she noted that Teacher Summit was just what she and other teachers needed to bring new ideas back to the classroom. “This has been a great experience to reinvigorate teachers and remind us that learning can be really creative and interesting for our students. I feel reenergized after this experience.”

Participants of the Teacher Summit also visited resources tables from a variety of vendors and some of Texas A&M colleges, who provided information on programs of interest to high schools. The Summit concluded with two student presentations given by mechanical engineering student, Tadeo “Teddy” Huerto and physics and math major, Robert Bordovsky. The students gave an honest look at their transition from high school to college, their experiences at Texas A&M and the importance of high school teachers who helped them in pursuing a STEM major.

 “This experience has always been a great opportunity to network with other teachers from across the state and get to learn about ideas that I can bring back to my classroom,” said 11th and 12th grade Hearne High School physics and astronomy teacher and veteran attendee of Teacher Summit, Chris Grecko. “I really enjoy seeing what’s being researched at Texas A&M and the opportunity to get my students excited about STEM.”

Teacher Summit has been a successful event that allowed Texas A&M to build relationships with STEM teachers across the state of Texas. The 2013 Summit participants represented 54 Texas school districts representing a student population of more than 76,000.

Teachers received eight hours of continuing education credit for attending the conference. The Teacher Summit was offered at no cost to the teachers though the generous donations of the Nuclear Power Institute, ConocoPhillips, Subsea Tieback Foundation, Chevron Phillips and the support of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

For more information on 2013 Teacher Summit, visit: http://STEMsummit.tamu.edu/

or call the office of Engineering Student Services and Academic Programs at 979-845-7200.