This summer, the Student STEM Summer Academy brought together three dozen teachers and nearly 80 students from nine Delaware high schools to promote a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – curriculum. Hands-on interdisciplinary lessons were aimed at increasing the number of students considering an education or career in a STEM field.
“During the academy, students learn about things that would not necessarily interest them when presented in a traditional way,” said Brandi Anderson, a science teacher at Appoquinimink High School. “But when they collaborate with each other, and see how math and science work in the real world, they get energized.”
One activity took place at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) campus where the students learned about biodiversity by taking samples from two different habitats, one of the CANR wetlands and also a grassy area.
Using Hula Hoops as circular plot frames, the students recorded random samples and noted the biodiversity found in their frames. They then went back to the Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory and learned about chi-square analysis and how to use a biodiversity calculator to determine biodiversity indices.
Penny Rodrick-Williams, a biology teacher from the Tatnall School who taught in UD’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from 2004-08, was one of the teachers who led the project.
Rodrick-Williams said that Tatnall values its environmental studies curriculum and exposing the students to the outdoor program was a natural decision.
“When we were asked to come up with an activity to do for the STEM lab, it was just natural for us to want to bring the students outside,” said Rodrick-Williams. “We’re really excited about our environmental programs and to keep that going made us really happy. We were glad to be able to do it and we were really appreciative of being able to use the space.”
Article by Adam Thomas
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