Learning the Lessons of STEM

    During the summer, area science and math teachers got a lesson from manufacturing experts in how those disciplines are intertwined with the needs of business and industry.

    The third annual Materials and Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute – a three-day program that brings together academic and industrial leaders in an effort to better prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers – was launched at Southern, where about 20 teachers participated in a day of activities. The next two days were conducted at other locations.

    State Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included James Gildea, a representative of Bigelow Tea; Christine Broadbridge, SCSU director of STEM initiatives and co-director of the summer institute, and Bob Klancko, co-director of the summer institute, and chairman of the New Haven Manufacturing Association Workforce Development Committee. Stephen Hegedus, dean of the SCSU School of Education, and Robert Forbus, associate professor of marketing and assistant to the dean of the School of Business at SCSU, also were among the array of speakers throughout the day.

    Industry product demonstrations were conducted to show how STEM is applied in manufacturing. The demonstrations included taking a hunk of zinc and turning it into a cast/machined product, and converting a steel cylinder into a high tech bolt/screw.

    “It was a terrific learning opportunity for teachers to see just how valuable STEM is in 21st century manufacturing,” Broadbridge said. “One of the primary objectives of the institute is for those teachers to take this knowledge and awareness, and develop innovative teaching methods to help inspire and prepare middle and high school students for STEM-related fields.”

    The institute was a collaborative effort that included SCSU; the New Haven Manufacturers Association; Platt Technical High School in Milford; the Southern Connecticut chapter of ASM; the SCSU Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership (STEM-IL); CRISP (Center for Research on the Interface Structures and Phenomena at Yale University and SCSU). Peter Dimoulas, a science teacher at Career High School in New Haven, was presented an award from the institute for his efforts to promote STEM. He participated in the first year of the program.

    “He has exemplified what our institute is all about – learning more about the practical applications of STEM in industry, and then taking that awareness and creating opportunities for students to see for themselves the possibilities available to them using STEM,” Broadbridge said.

    “Peter is also linking manufacturing with important life science fields, including biotechnology. STEM-IL is pleased to be sponsoring his work this summer.”

    Dimoulas has created a half-year course at Career called “STEM Careers,” in which students will be able to go to local businesses to see what life is like for chemists, biologists, machinists, engineers and other science-based professionals.