Submitted by Ryan McDonald, Summer Programs Director and Public Relations Coordinator at Maine School of Science and Mathematics.
The STEM Summer Camp at Maine School of Science & Mathematics ended the 2019 season on August 3rd. Over 550 middle school campers came to the small town of Limestone in beautiful Aroostook County to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. The campers had three hands-on classes daily and then a non-STEM class called “Instructor’s Passion”. After that, they participated in traditional summer camp activities such as rock climbing, creating tie dye shirts, baking, capture the flag, swimming, and of course our special 100-foot mega slip-n-slide.
The camp started in 1997 as a camp for girls to get them interested in the STEM fields, but expanded to six weeks total with three for boys and three for girls. In 2018, the camp changed to five weeks with a co-ed week in the middle. We have found the new model to be very effective and plan to continue.
The classes are designed to keep kids academically stimulated through the summer and have no homework nor prerequisites. The only requirement is curiosity for how things work. Some of the classes this year and past years have included Real Life CSI, Model Rocketry, 3D Printing, You Can Do the Cube (Rubik’s Cube), The Science of Clay, Intro to Programming, LEGO Robotics, Catapults and Trebuchets, and many more. This year brought a new idea, Instructor’s Passion for the 4th class. It was a shorter class where each instructor taught a hobby or interest such as origami, Japanese language, drawing, creating your own game, appreciating Beethoven’s music, team building, etc.
The MSSM STEM Summer Camp brings educators, staff, and campers from all 16 counties, a few other states, and even a few foreign countries. Each year we strive to improve the camp based on feedback from the campers. We don’t make anyone an expert in each week of camp, but we do love when campers learn something and say, “Wow! This exists.”
For more information about the MSSM STEM Summer Camp and Maine School of Science and Mathematics, go to: www.mssm.org.
In a four-day educator training that took place last month at the United Technology Center (UTC) in Bangor, 14 educators from across Maine gathered for a unique professional development opportunity offered through a partnership between two educators from RSU 19, Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), and UTC that aims to help educators integrate advanced technology and experiential learning into every lesson plan, and to help fill the workforce gap in Maine.
Utilizing a $50,000 grant that EMCC President Lisa Larson obtained through the Maine Community College System, the 3 credit Introduction to Experiential Teaching through Technology course was offered as an opportunity for educators to “learn practical learning experiences to integrate traditional and newly advanced technologies into project biased lesions,” similar to the teaching methods found in career and technical education (CTE) settings throughout the state. The idea is to bring the experiential teaching philosophy to classrooms long before the high school CTE experience. The earlier integration of experiential learning gives students a taste for possible career paths but just as importantly, learning experiences that allow them to utilize and understand the advanced technological tools of their future and to utilize and exercise their own problem-solving and management skills.
The course was led by RSU 19 educators, Keith Kelley and Kern Kelley who are brothers, partners, and advocates for integrated experiential student learning. It provides classroom teachers, at any grade level and of any subject matter expertise, with not only the tools but also the mindset and methods to teach project based and integrated lessons to their students. This type of learning environment provides students with real-world, problem solving experiences with technology, bringing full circle the content areas that make up the very well-known acronym STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).
Each educator’s school paid $381 total for the four-day hybrid course that includes the four in-person sessions, bi-weekly reading and reflection assignments and online discussions and provides educators with contact hours plus 3 college credits, in addition to a “STEAMRoller” cart of hardware and equipment valued at over $2,000 each. They will also each have the opportunity to host a STEAMRoller bus for a day at their school, which includes an experiential student conference provided by course instructors and their partners. At the student conference, educators and students will be able to participate in a day filled with breakout sessions on various topics such as 3D printing, drones, and virtual reality to name a few.
Hermon High School Principal Brian Walsh is excited that one of his 9th grade science teachers is attending the course this summer so that he can share his knowledge and the tool kit with the other 9th grade science teacher so that they can integrate hands-on project-biased learning experiences, not just to 9th graders but throughout the high school as well. Walsh has felt a void where they were unable to fill an industrial arts position in prior years and hopes this will help bring new STEAM learning experiences, career pathways, and experiential opportunities to the students at Hermon High School.
Tonya Therrien, Benton Elementary 5th Grade teacher decided to take the course with the hopes of bringing back to her classroom, “a way to utilize technology more with the kiddos, beyond just using it for research.” She wants her students to know how to use technology as a tool. When asked what she thought of the training so far, she said, “this is probably the most worthwhile class I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot of classes.” She then added that she has two master’s degrees which both required a fair amount of coursework.
Aaron Pody, a high school Life Sciences teacher from RSU 18 came to the class to learn about ways to teach the content with more relevance to his students. He has been pleased to find that there are ways to bring technology into the classroom that are not cost prohibitive.
RSU 26 educator Karen Frye from Orono was excited to bring back what she has learned at the course to provide her gifted and talented students with the rare opportunity to do some hands-on problem solving, which will further enrich their learning experience and give them some problem-solving skills.
The 3-credit course and the STEAMRoller bus events are intended to give participating educators and schools a taste of experiential learning methods, along with emerging technologies, tools and resources. The course is expected to be followed up by an Experiential Education certificate program that EMCC is expected to launch in January of 2020. The new program aims to provide the state with educators that can help fill the growing workforce gap in technologically skilled workers.
The launch of the experiential training was deemed a success by organizers and participants alike. The innovative approach to an obvious need has the potential to further help Maine schools lead their students toward successful career choices, experience with problem-solving, and the ability to successfully navigate the technology of our future.
This article was written by Rachel Paling in collaboration with course instructors Keith and Kern Kelley, and staff at both UTC and EMMC. If you have story ideas for Maine DOE’s Maine School’s Sharing Success campaign, please contact Rachel Paling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Dawn McLaughlin, ESEA Coordinator & Curriculum Coordinator at School Union 93.
For two weeks, twenty students of Blue Hill Consolidated School have been participating in a Title 1A Summer School, taught by Ms. Bradford and Ms. Longley. Summer School is being held at George Stevens Academy, with students ranging from grades K-8. Morning early sessions focus on Reading and ELA, and later morning is focusing on Math and STEM. Much of the student work is hands-on, and students are highly engaged.
Much of the read aloud fiction is tied in with the STEM challenges. Last week’s theme was Water Week. Students read boat themed books like Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen and Toy Boat by Randall de Seve. Students created their own boats out of reusable materials and pieces of wood. Younger students added plastic animals one at a time to see how many animals their boat could hold. Older students used keels and sails to balance their boats thinking about ideas like center of gravity and weight.
The Maine Department of Education is hosting a Computer Science Summit, where educators will create a statewide plan for Pre-K to 12 Computer Science. This plan will help coordinate and guide the efforts of many stakeholders, and serve as a set of recommendations in a report to the Legislature in January 2020. The two-day event will be held on Monday, August 5th and Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 at the RiSE Center at the University of Maine in Orono.
In order to make sure we have a diverse set of perspectives and all the needed knowledge, the Department will be limiting the participation to 40 educators, who will be selected based on a short application process. The goal is to have representation from various geographic areas, content areas, and grade-levels to shape this plan over the course of the two-day Summit. Additionally, the Department hopes to have representation from district and school leadership.
The application is due by close of business Monday, July 29th and invites will be sent on Tuesday, July 30th, 2019.
Reimbursement for mileage, overnight accommodations, and meal costs are available for eligible participants.
The Department will also be inviting a variety of stakeholders to participate in specific ways in this process before, during, and after the Summit, however, this two-day gathering is primarily designed for educators to create the statewide plan.
Who: Maine Pre-K to 12 Classroom Teachers and Administrators (limited by application process)
What: Creating a Statewide Computer Science Plan
Where: RiSE Center in Estabrooke Hall at the University of Maine in Orono
When: Monday 8/5 from 10am – 8pm AND Tuesday 8/6 from 9am – 5pm
A team of chemistry students from Waterville Senior High School collected 85 water samples from different locations in Waterville, which were sent to the Dartmouth Lab for analysis. Fifteen of the samples tested positive for arsenic—so the class researched inexpensive filters called Zero Water to keep water arsenic-free and make their community safer.
The project was covered by a team of Mass Media Communications students at Mid-Maine Technical Center (MMTC) as part of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. MMTC is the only school in Maine that hosts this program. It was presented on Maine Public Television and nationally on PBS Nature’s American Spring LIVE, and won third place in a national STEM Film Festival hosted by PBS.
Maine Spring Live – Clean Water from Mid-Maine Technical Center on Vimeo.
This story was written by Maine DOE Intern Emmeline Willey.If you have a story idea or would like to submit a written story for the Maine DOE Newsroom, email Rachel Paling at email@example.com.