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 own enrichment.

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 UTA’s commitment to playing an active role in improving K-12 education. “We’re 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 University’s 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.”

“It’s 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 tracks—all are tools for the science teachers in Ostlund’s 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 won’t want to major in a scientific field. If we get these teachers excited about science, they’ll get the students excited. And some of them will want to come to UTA.”


Happy campers
Summer youth programs in science, music, engineering and athletics make learning fun for hundreds of young students.

On-the-job training
Internships build partnerships with industry and often lead to permanent jobs.

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