July 18, 2011

Nearly 30 Louisiana high school teachers gathered June 6-10 on LSU’s campus for the Marathon High School Teacher Engineering Awareness Program (HSTEAP). Sponsored by Marathon Oil Company, HSTEAP is intended to aid teachers in the pursuit of understanding engineering and developing curriculum strategies that support and strengthen understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the high school classroom.

Hosted by the College of Engineering (CoE), this year’s HSTEAP participants included:

Aimee Welch, LSU Laboratory School; Allie Jenkins, Varnado High School; Bryan Heikes, Zachary High School; Donna McCarthy, LSU Laboratory School; Eleonor Cayari, Istrouma High School; Greaselda Abram, Varnado High School; Jalel Ben Hmida, Lafayette High School; Jessica Hungerford, South Beauregard High School; Julie Owens, LSU Laboratory High School; Katrina Pommerening, Academy of the Sacred Heart; Lori Falgout, Zachary High School; Ma Leticia Zaporteza, Istrouma High School; Mark Boudreaux, South Terrebonne High School; Michelle Miller, Ponchatoula High School; Nathan Cotten, South Terrebonne High School; Nick Richert, Lafayette High School; Rebecka Rocquin, Ponchatoula High School; Sarah LaBouef, South Beauregard High School; Susan Gingold, Academy of the Sacred Heart; Daryl Savage, Ruston High School; Elaine Johnson, Broadmoor High School; Emile Frey, Ruston High School; Janell Coffman, Bolton High School; John Lappin, Broadmoor High School; Kelly Haynes, Baker High School; LaRon McCurry, Baker High School; Natalie Nettles, Peabody High School; Pamela Granier, Central High School; and Wiley "Danny" Iverstine, Central High School.

“As the demand grows not only for more engineers, but also for a diverse engineering workforce, it is incumbent upon universities to reach out to K-12 educators to help facilitate their understanding and learning process of engineering,” said Kelly Rusch, associate dean for research and diversity programs, CoE. “HSTEAP is an excellent example of this type of partnership—bringing 15 math-science teacher pairs onto campus each summer to engage in activities that can be easily implemented in the high school classroom.”  

HSTEAP facilitators, Christina White and Julianne Webb, employed hands-on activities to emphasize the connection between science, math and engineering. The intent of the program is for teachers to implement the knowledge gained from the workshop in their math and science courses at their schools. The HSTEAP projects focus on the National Academy of Engineering’s "Grand Challenges of Engineering," which range from making alternative energy sources more economically viable to developing sustainable building structures.

“We want to facilitate teachers in becoming excited about and capable in integrating design-based and project-based learning into their math and science classrooms,” said White. “We hope to help them realize real world contextualization so that their students can understand that they are able to face and solve some of the challenges that are most pressing to our world in the 21st century.”

The 2011 program focused particularly on two modules of the National Academy of Engineering’s grand challenges: restoring and improving urban infrastructure and developing alternative fuels. The former has particular importance in Louisiana due to the impact of hurricanes on the state's population. Participants designed and built a New Orleans-based community with innovative ideas for restoration, improvement and sustainability, while keeping natural disaster preparedness at the forefront of the planning process.

“One of our big goals is what is learned here leaves here,” said Webb. “We want there to be evidence of engineering connections in classrooms through the types of lessons teachers create, through the guest speakers teachers bring in to their classroom, the competitions that teachers take students through, and participation in science and engineering fairs. It’s not just an experience here – it’s something the teachers take back to their students.”

“If you solve problems like an engineer, those engineering skills will help you solve other problems in your life,” said John Lappin, an environmental science teacher at Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge, La. “I want to use the research I’ve learned at LSU and apply that to my students and get them more interested in science.”

“We’re always looking for new ways to put hands-on activities in the classroom, said Lori Falgout, a physical science teacher at Zachary High School in Zachary, La. “I can use a lot of the things we’ve learned and apply them on a smaller scale.”

“We are building the human capital in the K-12 school system, through these teachers who can function as educators and advocates for engineering, so students are better prepared when they reach college,” added Rusch.

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 Article by Aariel Charbonnet, College of Engineering public relations graduate assistant, carcen6@lsu.edu



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