Seventh annual Teacher Summit draws more than 120 high school teachers from around Texas

Teacher Summit 2014The Dwight Look College of Engineering and College of Science at Texas A&M University hosted more than 120 high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers from across Texas at the seventh annual Teacher Summit, held at the College Station Hilton and Conference Center on January 31, 2014.

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

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

Dr. Teri Reed, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs and assistant dean of academic affairs, spoke during the General Session about Changing the Conversation, a book authored by the Committee on Public Understanding of Engineering Messages and the National Academy of Engineering. Reed discussed the strategies and market-tested messages that book suggests for presenting a more positive and deeper image of engineering.

The daylong conference gave each participant the opportunity to experience four hands-on workshops. These workshops included a session about energy efficient coffee making, given by Dr. Johannes Strobel, director for educational outreach programs in the Look College. The teachers engaged in an engineering design process to brainstorm and develop potential solutions to reduce the energy consumed in the coffee making process. Dr. Tracy Hammond, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Sketch Recognition Laboratory, gave a workshop on interactive sketching with intelligent education applications, which introduced the benefits of educational applications inside and outside the classroom with interactive sketching. The workshop also exposed the teachers to several hands-on interactions of emerging intelligent applications for different classroom subjects.

Dr. Kristi Shyrock, senior director of retention in Engineering Academic and Student Affairs, assistant department head for undergraduate program and outreach and instructional associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, presented techniques to bring engineering into the math class. Shryock used the example of how Texas A&M and Blinn College worked together to create an engineering approach to prepare students for calculus with a hands-on activities. Esther Johnson, a physics teacher from Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas and Josh Bergerson, a physics teacher at Travis B. Bryan High School in Bryan, Texas, gave a presentation on integrating engineering into the high school science or math classroom. They presented activities that were designed to follow the Engineering Design Process, which combined various mathematical and scientific concepts. Both Bergerson and Johnson participated in the Enrichment Experiences in Engineering, an NSF-funded program at Texas A&M.Photo of Teacher Summit 2014 audience

Bill Heeter, an 11th and 12th grade engineering teacher at Porter High School in Porter, Texas and a 1973 industrial distribution graduate from Texas A&M, has attended Teacher Summit multiple times. “I always get great ideas that I bring back to my classroom,” Heeter said. “There is tremendous knowledge each time I attend that I can pass on to engineering and science teachers as well as my students.”

Participants of Teacher Summit also visited resource tables from a variety of vendors and Texas A&M colleges, who provided information on programs of interest to high schools. The Summit concluded with a faculty panel presentation that gave the teachers a chance to ask questions directly to Texas A&M faculty about how to best prepare their students for college courses. Hannah Werner and Courtney Hall, alumni of Texas A&M who now work in industry, gave presentations about how their K-12 teachers and experiences directly impacted their choices to pursue STEM majors and careers.

Teachers received eight hours of continuing education credit for attending. The Teacher Summit was offered at no cost to the teachers through the generous donations of the Nuclear Power Institute, Phillips 66, Chevron Phillips and the support of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.

“Resources and networking with other teachers is always a rewarding experience for me,” said Linda O’Brien, a teacher at Jasper High School in Jasper, Texas. “But the main benefit of this day was interacting with the university environment. I truly felt like I was more qualified and prepared to come into my classroom and help my students start to understand what STEM is and to start teaching concepts as well as habits to prepare them to handle the next step in that direction. The University-high school connection seems a very important step in the right direction to helping our students be successful in the STEM world.

For more information on Teacher Summit, visit http://stemsummit.tamu.edu/ or call the office of Engineering Academic and Student Affairs at 979.845.7200.