New minor promotes STEM education

  Wednesday, October 14, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

New minor promotes STEM education

A new minor launched this semester is aimed at preparing future elementary school teachers to promote and teach various technological concepts.

The new minor in technological literacy, a joint effort between the College of Education and the College of Technology, combines educational technology courses with technology and engineering education courses to provide a comprehensive approach to the practical use and implementation of computer skills, design and problem solving skills and teaming concepts into real world practices and experiences.

Mike Neden, associate professor in the technology and workforce learning program, said the minor was created to help teachers implement STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts into their classrooms.

“What we’re trying to do with this new minor is give education majors appropriate experience in applied learning so that they’re ready to teach STEM in their future classes,” Neden said. “We’re looking at integrated technology concepts, STEM experiences, problem solving using technology and various other components of technological literacy in the 21st century.”

Along with preparing current students to teach today’s diverse technology concepts, Pitt State is also working with current teachers to train within the framework of the new minor’s curriculum.

“We’re currently working with teachers from George Nettels and Lakeside elementary schools on how to best use STEM concepts in their schools,” Neden said. “The teachers come in every Thursday afternoon for STEM-related workshops, and we go through many of the same lessons our students go through.”

Neden said the technological literacy minor will give Pitt State graduates another leg up in the job market.

“If there is a school in Joplin, for example, looking to hire a new teacher, what sets a PSU grad apart from a graduate of a different school?” Neden asked. “The answer is that we have the Kansas Technology Center and others do not. So we want to take full advantage of this great asset we have in as many ways as possible.”

Tracy Rampy, an instructor in the College of Education's Department of Teaching and Leadership, said the goal is to enable students to do more than just talk about STEM.

"We have created an environment that provides them with relevant, hands-on learning experiences that they can transform into their future classrooms," Rampy said. "They have the opportunity to investigate and explore activities, create rich, inquiry-driven lesson plans, and work alongside elementary students and their teachers to gain the confidence and knowledge needed to weave STEM concepts into the classroom."



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