Nearly 90 teachers from Davenport's Catholic grade schools joined a daylong series of hands-on instructional sessions geared to help them better integrate the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in their classrooms.
"It has been really good," said Shelly Furlong, a fourth-grade teacher at John F. Kennedy Catholic School, at the first STEM Workshop Jan. 3 at the Rogalski Center. "We've gotten a lot of ideas for things that we can use in our classroom."
"A lot of hands-on things," added Linda Vogel, a third-grade teacher at JFK. "A lot of different methods of teaching children math and science."
Richard Hanzelka, PhD, said the workshop could be the first of several for area teachers hosted by St. Ambrose. Hanzelka described himself as "convener" of a half-decade-old SAU committee formed to help further the STEM concept that may be the wave of the future in education.
"It's kind of a latter-day Sputnik response," Hanzelka said of the inter-related subject matter. "As people begin to look at science, they realize that it is all hooked together with a lot of other things."
Technology, of course, is the tie that binds.
That's why an Apple representative hosted workshop sessions to help teachers enlist iPads to teach students as young as pre-kindergarten.
"For about anything, I think technology will be the driving tool to make things happen that wouldn't have happened before," Hanzelka said.
Although the SAU committee has been incorporating STEM concepts into the university's curriculum for several years, Hanzelka described the January workshop as committee's "first manifestation outside the university."
He said the SAU-funded workshop may be used as a blueprint to seek grant assistance for future workshops.
"That will be our debrief meeting–to find out what is next," he said. "We'll probably have to figure out the best way for us to proceed, decide which kinds of audiences we want to include."
Current committee members include Aron Aji, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Sandra Cassady, PhD, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. Also involved are Maggie Woods; Michael Opar, PhD; Bill Hixon, PhD; Sally Beneke, PhD; Rachel Serianz, PhD; Brad Thiessen, PhD; and Kathleen Trujillo, PhD.