Not just for kids
Teachers also benefit from UTA camps
by Sherry Wodraska Neaves
School teachers camped
out at UTA this summer as well. Some accompanied their students,
supporting and encouraging, while others hit the books for their
Science teachers participated with their sixth- through 12th-grade
students in the Summer Science Institute, expanding their classroom
repertoire while taking a close-up look at the latest in research
methods (and getting a good look at those back-flipping UTA scientists).
Area music teachers both
attended and taught at the various camps, while more than 360 junior
and senior high school teachers from a four-state area attended
the Fifth Annual Advanced Placement (AP) Institute at UTA in June.
Specifically designed to prepare students for college, AP courses
are taught on a more advanced level than typical high school classes.
University President Robert E. Witt said hosting the annual institute
demonstrates UTAs commitment to playing an active role in
improving K-12 education. Were all in this together,
he said. UTA is part of an educational system, and any program
that strengthens part of this system, strengthens the entire system.
Some of the teachers on campus this summer were actually students
in the Universitys master of arts in interdisciplinary science
program. They attend classes year round, but in the summer
a camp atmosphere reigns, and guest speakers from across the nation
share their science education expertise.
Thomas Hsu of the Cambridge Physics Outlet in Peabody, Mass., walked
the junior high and high school science teachers through several
experiments on electricity, simple machines and magnets during part
of an intensive three-week course.
In one experiment, the teacher/students were divided in teams and
given the equipment to build motors. Team members worked to build
the fastest running motor, but gaining a greater understanding of
the scientific principles behind the exercise was even more important.
Karen Ostlund, director of the UTA Center for Science Education,
calls such learning hands-on and minds-on.
Its inquiry-based learning, she explained. You
do an activity to teach a concept, then questions begin to emerge.
Ultimately, we want these teachers to get the kids involved in learning,
to get them up out of their seats.
Play-Doh, Legos, puzzles, wooden cars racing down undulating tracksall
are tools for the science teachers in Ostlunds center. Red
proton, blue neutron and yellow electron marbles comprise an atom
building game. A spring-loaded marble launcher clarifies principles
in algebra, geometry, measurement and probability.
Our teachers feel so empowered by all this, Ostlund
said. Unless we have teachers who are turning kids on to science,
by the time they get to college, they wont want to major in
a scientific field. If we get these teachers excited about science,
theyll get the students excited. And some of them will want
to come to UTA.