For Trinect Fellows, the classroom experience doesn’t end with their weekly visits to Des Moines elementary schools. Each Monday, our ten Fellows have been attending a science education seminar led by Joanne Olson and Raj Raman, two of the leaders of the Trinect project. This course, Education and Public Outreach, introduces the engineering graduate students to current teaching practices with respect to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in public education and outreach settings.

While one of the key focuses of Trinect is to support elementary STEM teacher educatiTrinect Seminar 10.2015on, Fellows have much to gain from this experience as well. By working with elementary students and being students of STEM education themselves, the engineering graduate students have the chance to
increase their communication skills, especially regarding STEM subjects. While these lessons are applicable immediately to their current Fellowship, they will also be relevant to any future teaching and public outreach activities they might do. With a number of Fellows interested in post-secondary education, this course is increasingly beneficial to their future role as educators.

The course content is based off the notion that effective and appropriate teaching requires the analysis of learning, learner characteristics, teaching strategies, instructional materials and educational goals. This content gives the Fellows an edge on being able to create and implement lessons in STEM in the classroom, both now and in the future.

“We take a two-fold approach with the Fellows in this course. We want to touch base with and support them as well as further their understanding of effective STEM education. This course helps the engineers at work now in schools and addresses their future needs as engineer,” said Joanne Olson, course leader and Trinect program director.

The ultimate goal after completion of the course is to have the Fellows be able to accurately judge the appropriateness of particular STEM content issues for students and to modify that content effectively for those students. Fellows will also have a firm understanding of the importance of STEM education and demonstrate the skills for doing so productively.