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LU’s STEM class broadens area teachers’ knowledge of engineering

For the third consecutive year, high school STEM teachers are the students at Lamar University’s Research Experience for Teachers. The College of Engineering hosts the program that instructs teachers in engineering research in advanced design and manufacturing.
Sheri Furby
Melineh Richard from Pasadena ISD and Sheri Furby of Port Neches-Groves ISD

The six-week course, ongoing through July 12 and made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, includes workshops, curriculum development, seminars and field trips to local industry. The research experience is then incorporated into high school curriculum that meets Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standard.

“The program has let me have a little more exposure to research than I ever would have in the classroom and gives me something to bring back to my students,” said Sheri Furby, a STEM teacher in Port Neches-Groves with more than 20 years’ experience. “Before this course, I did no STEM. The course gives more hands on than I’ve ever done, offers research that I’ve not done before and connects me with other STEM teachers.”

Research topics cover all disciplines of engineering divided into three, two-week rotations. Subjects covered include: “3D Design and Printing, Laser Engraving & Micro-Machining, VR/AR,” “LED Modeling, Simulation and Manufacturing,” “Design and Manufacturing for Smart Structure,” “Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Simulation in Industrial Applications,” and “Synthesis and Manufacturing of Robotics.”

As part pf the grant, every teacher in the program is required to create lesson plans and submit them to a repository for STEM lessons for other teachers to use, called teachengineering.org.

“Getting a lesson plan on the teachengineering.org is very challenging,” said Xinyu Liu, associate professor, industrial engineering, and principle investigator for the Research Experience for Teachers at LU. “The lesson plan has to be peer-reviewed, and there is an $1,800 grant awarded to the teacher who is approved. Other teachers are able to download and use your curriculum so that’s why there is such a stringent requirement to publish your work.”

After taking the class in 2018, Furby and fellow teacher, Carrie Guarnere, developed a stencil for dimensional analysis, a tool for calculations for chemistry, physics and engineering. “We’re in the process of getting it on teachengineering.org,” said Furby, who is now considered a master teacher of Research Experience for Teachers because she is taking it for the second year. “We also had LU professors come out and observe us teaching students using the stencil.”

STEM for Teachers
MD Ashraful Hoque and Christopher Galmore
As part of the course, every teacher gets a 3D printer to take back to the classroom. Every teacher puts his or her 3D printer together and then prints designs they create.

“One of the rotations in my lab, teachers assemble a 3D printer,” said Liu. “They use the 3D printer to print some object or project that may be used in the classroom.”

Furby’s students at PN-G designed their own stencils and printed them. “Our students are getting exposure in high school to design and research aspects so they are more open to things they’ll learn in college; they’re getting a head start,” said Furby.

Liu said many of the teachers have no real engineering experience before coming to take the STEM program at LU. “They have no prior knowledge of engineering but they are tasked with developing STEM curriculum for the classroom,” said Liu. “So this workshop definitely helps them develop more valuable course content for the students for the next generation of students, who may potentially attend Lamar University.”