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MMAE Hosts Materials Science Program for Educators to Empower Future Generations in STEM

For the seventh consecutive year, the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology hosted an American Society of Materials (ASM) Teachers Camp, in an effort to help educators strengthen their STEM curriculum at the secondary level. This professional development program exposed15 junior high and high school teachers to new ideas for engaging and empowering students through materials science education.  

This weeklong program gives teachers the opportunity to revisit scientific principles, conduct experiments, and bring applicable lessons into their classrooms. Participants learned about a different type of material each day and took part in several labs to demonstrate the reactive properties of each material. 

The lead instructors for the program are Caryn Jackson, science teacher at Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City, Ohio, and Bernoli Baello, upper school math and science teacher at The Prairie School in Racine, Wisconsin, who receive ASM training every year to help lead class demonstrations.

“The hands-on lab experience shows educators how to engage students and apply engineering techniques in their classrooms, and help make math and core science principles relevant to students’ everyday experiences,” says Jackson, who is also an ASM Teachers Camp alumna. 

Sammy Tin, professor of materials engineering, is Illinois Tech’s ASM Teachers Camp lead organizer and says, “Our goal is to educate the educators so that more professionals are encouraged to share with students the benefits and variety of career opportunities available within materials science.” He adds, “I enjoy seeing the enthusiasm from the teachers each year and knowing that they’re taking this knowledge back to students who may otherwise be unaware of these career options.”

Jackson notes that teachers often receive professional development training that lacks the sufficient resources that would allow them to turn new ideas into action. 

She says, “The best part of this program is that teachers are equipped with a workbook, instructions, and the materials to take home,” and adds that teachers “are also provided with lab write-ups and demos to customize for their own students.”

Edith Nieves, a high school science teacher at Marine Leadership Academy in Chicago, says, “It was my first time hearing about this program, and I love the activities we’re doing every day. I’m excited to integrate these practical ideas into my own lesson plan, and wish I could keep taking more courses.”

Esmeralda Soto, a middle school computer science teacher at Marine Leadership Academy, also plans to incorporate these new resources into her teaching curriculum. “I learned so much and am grateful for all the hands-on learning experiences. I’m looking forward to demonstrating to my students how science is applicable in so many forms,” says Soto.

Eligible teachers are encouraged to apply and receive four continuing education units, or two graduate-level credits, upon completion of the program. 

Workshops are held on college campuses, high schools, and community colleges throughout the United States and Canada each summer. This program was held at Illinois Tech’s John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center on the Mies Campus from July 15–19, 2019. 

 The ASM Teachers Camp is offered by the ASM Materials Education Foundation, which develops and deploys materials science content and hands-on strategies to encourage future generations to pursue careers in materials, science, and engineering.