Teaching STEM to a new generation

STEM Institute provides teaching experience for students who dedicate their summer to learning

Before the STEM Institute was created, most College of Education students could only get experience in the field for one hour a day during the fall and spring semesters. Those students who were working toward their degree by taking summer classes were subjected to teaching each other what they learned and not teaching young students.

Now, with the summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Institute and the College of Education’s partnership with USD 383, K-State’s Core Teaching Skills students are getting the chance to interact with all kinds of middle school students from across Manhattan.

For senior Emilie Crutchfield, it is all about getting to interact with the middle school students. “It is a hands-on experience. With education, you can only hear so much about it and learn so much from just lecture before you need to test it out for yourself,” she said. “Actually getting to interact with the students and learn how they learn and how they work is a lot more beneficial for me as I am growing into being a teacher.”

For the college students, gaining an all-around experience is important too. “Every day looks different because you get different kids with different personalities and it is all about finding the right mix of students to get together,” said Kyra Manner, a junior in elementary education.

With new students being handed to college students every week the need and ability to adapt to the changing classroom is also a lesson the college students learn quickly. “We have to change how we interact with each group week to week or even sometimes day to day. I have learned a lot about classroom management this way and just how to interact with all the different personalities,” said Sarah Wolfe, a junior in music education. “There are some things I’ve learned in this camp that I would never have experienced if I had not decided to stay here this summer. I do not think regular semester students would get the experience I did during the day. I got dedicated time with the students and with different students every week, in an active and engaged learning environment.”

This camp gives the college students a new way to teach kids. “I think most college students only ever see a structured learning environment, and this camp shows them that teaching can be fun and messy and inviting to all kinds of students, as well as being creative,” said James Alberto, elementary science instructor at K-State. “I like the messy, chaotic environment, and the students are really seeing that kids are learning and engaging from it too.”

This camp also has the age group that can fit all majors for the College of Education. With middle school students coming in, a student majoring in secondary or elementary education can get a good experience of what their life could be like when they graduate and begin to teach.

With all the interaction that the college students and the middle school students receive from being a part of this camp, professor and assistant dean for teacher education and accreditation Todd Goodson said, “If I could start an education system plan all over again I would have it look like summer STEM.”

“This camp has pushed me far outside my comfort zone and how I want to be able to bring in the science and STEM ideas into my English classroom one day,” said Krista Everhart, senior in secondary English education. “This camp has given me a ton of ideas about how I can put together all different kinds of subjects and get students thinking about the big picture. Instead of just showing one subject or one idea, I can pull together all kinds of topics and make the learning better.”

For more information about the Summer STEM Institute, and how you can support students, please follow this link.

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