Category: STEM Education

Family Science & Engineering Night at Houghton Elementary School Tonight

Houghton Elementary School will be a hopping place tonight as kindergarten through fifth grade students and their families come together to have fun doing hands-on science and engineering activities presented by Michigan Tech students. The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

Each child and adult at Houghton Family Science & Engineering Night can attend two 40-minute hands-on activities. The activities will address a variety of scientific concepts, ranging from which chewing gum is the best to observing characteristics of various rocks and minerals. Students will also be challenged to determine which clear liquid is water and to design a launcher.

“Family science nights provide an opportunity for children and parents to learn together in a relaxed and fun environment,” explains Shawn Oppliger, director of the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education. “Parents play an essential role in the success of their children at school. Parents who encourage the daily use of science and math concepts and skills, greatly enhance their child’s ability to grasp these challenging subject areas. Children are more likely to have a positive attitude about math and science if their parents do.

“The home-school connection is very important in education,” adds Oppliger. “Family Science & Engineering nights promote that connection by bringing families together at school to learn in a fun and challenging way and reinforce classroom learning.”

“The Michigan Tech students are providing a valuable community service by sharing their enthusiasm and expertise in science and engineering, ” explains Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Tech. “A program of this magnitude would not be possible without the partnership of the Copper Country Intermediate School District and Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education.”

“Presenting at family science night is fun and exciting. It is completely different from anything I have done,” comments forestry major Mary Wachuta. “Kids remember stuff that’s fun, so if they have fun doing science, they’ll remember the lessons.”

Tonight’s program is funded in part by the Houghton-Portage Twp. Schools. The family night program is conducted by the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, in partnership with the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education. The Center will conduct 12 family science, engineering and forest nights during the 2015-16 school year.

From Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.

Science, Engineering Challenges for Middle School Girls at Get WISE Workshop


More than 250 middle school students from across the western Upper Peninsula will spend the day exploring the excitement of science and engineering fields during the annual Get WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) event on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at the Wood Gym in Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. For more than 25 years, this event has brought seventh and eighth graders from 15 schools to campus for a day of hands-on activities, scientific challenges, talks with female role models and more.

“By having these girls spend the day solving science challenges in a fun atmosphere, we build their confidence and perhaps spark their interest,” said Liz Fujita, a coordinator at Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre-College Outreach (CPCO). “The girls are so creative in their solutions. We hope they will look at STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] with new eyes.”

One of this year’s activities will challenge them to build a simple water filter out of household materials. Another will have them creating a model heart valve to let marbles through one way, but not back the other way. “What’s fun about it is that there is more than one correct answer,” said Fujita. “That’s one thing we’re trying to show the students—that there’s rarely one ‘right’ solution to an engineering problem. It’s all about trying ideas out and improving on your previous attempts.”

The girls will also have opportunities to meet female role models enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at Michigan Tech, as well as staff members from widely varying campus departments. The students will be able to hear stories about what shaped their career paths, and ask questions of these successful STEM women.

“Get WISE teaches my female middle school students to problem-solve, work as a team to accomplish challenges, and not be hesitant to share their thoughts and ideas,” says L’Anse science teacher Jen Martin. “Throughout the day I see them gain more and more confidence, and they bring that confidence back to school. Get WISE has a long-lasting effect on my students.”

Get WISE is hosted by the CPCO office in partnership with the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Sciences, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

From Tech Today, by Jenn Donovan.

University encouraging women in science and engineering fields

Dollar Bay Middle School 7th Grader Molly Myllyoja said, “We filtered out water by using different materials like sand and gravel, felt coffee filters, and then we got to filter it so it turned to pure water instead of dirty water.”

Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre–College Outreach partners with the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Sciences, Mathematics and Environmental Education to make the program possible

Read more at ABC 10 UP News, by Rick Allen.

WJMN-TV Channel 3 and WBUP-TV Channel 10 broadcast stories about the Get WISE program that brought 250 middle-school girls to Michigan Tech for a day of hands-on science and engineering. Get WISE stands for Get Women in Science and Engineering.

From Tech Today.

Isle Royale Moose Watch for Educators Summer 2016

Isle Royale Moose Watch for Educators

Moose Watch

July 7 – July 14, 2016
Deadline: May 6, 2016

Moosewatch for Educators is a unique field experience in support of the ecological study of wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park. Educators will receive the technical instruction needed to participate as a member of a backcountry research team collecting moose bones and performing field necropsies on moose kill sites. The research team will be operating in an off-trail wilderness setting involving travel by canoe and foot. They will learn research methods, backcountry navigation, and wilderness living skills. The course will integrate aspects of earth science, geography, anatomy and physiology, and general ecology and mathematics. Moose pathology and anatomy will be an integral instructional component of the program. Participants will provide oral presentations about their experiences (at the end of the field course) as well as develop lesson plans off-site for use at their local schools.

ED 5560
3 credits

Learn more and apply at Teacher Professional Development Summer Institutes.

Coffee Chat with Gillian Roehrig


Dr. Gillian Roehrig, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Science Education at the University of Minnesota, will demonstrate several novel ways to engage students, including Concept Mapping, Photo-Elicitation Interviews (PEI’s), and the use of Socio-scientific Issues (SSI’s).

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Time: 10:00am – 11:00am
Location: Library East Reading Room
Campus: Center for Teaching and Learning

Learn more and register at the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Designing a Sustainable Future Summer 2016

Sustainable Future
Sustainable Future

Designing a Sustainable Future

July 11 – 15, 2016
Deadline: May 2, 2016

ED 5640 Designing a Sustainable Future Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, July 11-15, 2016
The institute will introduce teachers to the field of sustainability through examination of product life cycles, product recycling, repurposing materials, renewable energy sources of wind, solar, and biomass, designing energy- and resource-efficient buildings, site designs to reduce storm water runoff and increase biodiversity, and efficient transportation systems and vehicles. The institute will address the Next Generation Science Standards and be taught by a variety of Michigan Tech University faculty and graduate students, along with community and teacher experts. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 MTU graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes five nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 MTU graduate credits and materials. 
Link to register: 2016 Designing a Sustainable Future Application

Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Summer 2016

Engaging Students
Engaging Students

Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research

June 27 – July 1, 2016
Deadline: May 2, 2016

ED5601 Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute (for Gr. 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 27-July 1, 2016
Teachers gain skills in designing original research, rather than merely conducting cookbook experiments. Teachers will learn research design methods and procedures, and participate in a variety of research field and lab studies. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 MTU graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 MTU graduate credits and instructional materials. 
Link to register: 2016 Engaging Students in Science Research Application

Teaching About Global Change Summer 2016

Global Change
Global Change

Teaching About Global Change

June 20 – 24, 2016
Deadline: May 2, 201

ED5641 Global Change Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 20-24, 2016
This 5-day Institute will prepare you to engage your middle and high school students in a real-world study of the effects of global change on ecosystems, including the impacts of climatic change on forests— elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels, nitrogen saturation, acid rain, and invasive species. Teachers will participate in the MEECS Climate Change workshop and receive the NEW MEECS Climate Change Unit. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 MTU graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 MTU graduate credits and instructional materials.
Link to register: 2016 Global Change Teacher Institute Application

BASIC – Building Adult Skills in Computing

Back to BASICs: Computer help group has new name, same drive to help build skills

HOUGHTON?- It’s an hour before the Portage Lake District Library opens, but if you enter through the side door, you’ll see a group of Tech students and community members already hard at work. They bow over smartphones, tablets and laptops, deep in conversation. They’re here to teach, and to learn.

This is BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing), formerly known as Online at the Library. The group meets on Saturday mornings while Tech is in session.

Though its name has changed, the group’s mission has remained the same – to help answer questions for, and teach computing skills to, community members.

Another faculty member helping out Jan. 23 was Kelly Steelman, an assistant professor in Tech’s department of cognitive and learning sciences.

She’s been working with the program for a year, but she didn’t originally intend to become a tutor. Instead, she entered her first session hoping to gain insight on where to take Tech’s program, and see if there were technologies that could be developed to help older adults interact with technology, or to help the student tutors help others.

“I’m really interested in how people use technology, how they pay attention, and how we can get them to find the things that they’re trying to find and design technology in such a way that people aren’t getting lost,” she said.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Meghan Marquardt. (Subscription required.)

Mi-STAR and the NEW Michigan Science Standards

Geoseminar: Jacqueline Huntoon, Provost
The next Geoseminar will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Friday, January 29, 2016, in 610 Dow. The discussion topic will be “Mi-STAR and the NEW Michigan Science Standards.”

Anyone who is interested in working with K-12 science educators needs to be familiar with some of the major changes taking place as a result of development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In Michigan, new Michigan Science Standards, which are based on the NGSS, were adopted in the fall of 2015. Currently, the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Science Teachers Association, teachers and teacher-educators are working together to prepare for implementation of a reformed curriculum and new instructional practices in our state.

In the past, science standards focused primarily on disciplinary content. In contrast, the new standards ask for teachers to help students become proficient in doing science, as opposed to simply learning about it. This change requires wholescale reform of curriculum and instructional practice. The Mi-STAR project, funded by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, is working with teachers from throughout the state of Michigan to enact the needed reforms. Preliminary research and evaluation results indicate that the new standards and teaching methods are engaging students in science who were previously uninterested in the subject.

This presentation will include a brief overview of the NGSS and the Mi-STAR project along with the opportunity for everyone to try to come up with an idea for a “three-dimensional” learning opportunity for middle-school students. Come prepared to work with a partner or group to begin to create something meaningful and fun.

From Tech Today, by Bill Rose, GMES.

Hands on: Students do science, not just learn facts

HOUGHTON – When Michigan Tech researchers proposed and won funding for the new MiSTAR science curriculum development project, they were facing some challenging new state standards, according to principal investigator Jackie Huntoon.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Dan Roblee. (Subscription required.)

L’Anse students pilot hands-on science lessons

L’ANSE, Mich. (AP) – Students in L’Anse are taking part in new hands-on science units being piloted this year in the state.

Read more at 9 and 10 News.

After School Science & Engineering class for Gr. 6-8

An  after school science and engineering class taught by Michigan Tech Innovation Fellows who are nationally-trained facilitators is available for students in grades 6-8.

“Discover Your Creative Confidence & Inner Maker” will be taught from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays from Jan 14 to Feb 18, in a mobile makerspace at the Great Lakes Research Center.

 This class will introduce students to:

  • design thinking
  • creativity
  • innovation

The course will prepare students for a variety of future paths, whether that involves capitalizing on a big idea or implementing entrepreneurship. Action-filled problem solving! Students put ideas into action using a variety of materials.  Tinker, dream, invent!

The cost: $75/student and you must register by Jan. 6. Pay by credit card by calling the cashiers office 7‐2247. (Space is not reserved until payment has been received.) Register online

Any questions? Email Joan Chadde or call 7‐3341.

Note: Houghton school bus will drop off students at the GLRC by 3:45 pm

From Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.