STEM Discovery Lab Partnerships Provide Authentic Learning Opportunities

STEM Discovery Lab Partnerships Provide Authentic Learning Opportunities

by Emily Kerr, STEM Discovery Lab Coordinator

Friday, March 10, 2017

Middle school teachers work on engineering projects in the TESSA program

Middle school teachers at Teacher-Engineer STEM Scholar Academy (TESSA) learn hands-on engineering projects to bring back to their classrooms.

Team work? Check. Problem-solving? Check. Determination? Check.

The goals of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education are changing, and even at the lowest grades there is a growing focus on giving students ways to engage in authentic science and engineering practices. This is one of the objectives behind the Teacher-Engineer STEM Scholar Academy (TESSA).

The program, which is now in its second year, brings together middle school teachers and engineering professionals to integrate engineering practices into the middle school classroom. Participating teachers and students have visited engineering labs, conducted experiments at their schools and learned valuable communication and team building skills.

“When we visited Dyn, the engineers all said, ‘One of the requirements to work at Dyn is to be able to work on a team’,” says Mary Hartigan, a science teacher at Hillside Middle School in Manchester and participant in TESSA. “This program has shown me that all my students are capable of being great collaborators.”

TESSA is one of many programs coordinated by the STEM Discovery Lab, whose mission is to serve as a gateway for University of New Hampshire STEM programming and grow STEM leaders in the Manchester and Nashua communities. The lab also recently partnered with UNH Cooperative Extension, the university’s state-wide outreach organization.

“Cooperative Extension is excited to be partnering with UNH Manchester because the work of the STEM Discovery Lab is directly in line with our mission of making resources available to the community,” says Mike Young, Cooperative Extension’s Youth and Family program team leader.

The lab’s advisory team, which includes faculty and staff from UNH’s Manchester and Durham campuses,  plans to expand the STEM Discovery Lab’s role as a gateway between Manchester and Nashua area partners, educators and youth and UNH STEM education resources in the areas of professional development, research and youth programming.

Upcoming programs for educators and volunteers include an Inquiry Teaching Methods course, a STEM Docent Creative Computing Challenge Training and a Stream Safari Training. For more information, visit the STEM Discovery Lab website.


About UNH STEM Discovery Lab and UNH Cooperative Extension

The UNH STEM Discovery Lab was created in response to the growing need for graduates educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Using a research-based curriculum, our programs are designed to create challenging, hands-on learning and advance STEM education for all.

UNH Cooperative Extension connects New Hampshire’s citizens and communities to trusted, research-based knowledge and information from the state’s flagship public university. For over 100 years, we have been drawing on our deep understanding of the state’s needs to support the economy, improve lives and make natural resources healthier and more productive.

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