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Learning new classroom tricks

July 16, 2009 3:06:42 PM PDT
Making learning fun can be a challenge for teachers. So even teachers need to head back to class every once in a while to learn some new lessons to bring back to their students. And that's just what some middle school science teachers from across New Jersey have been doing. They were chosen to participate in the week-long "Teachers for the 21st Century" program run by the Stevens Institute in Hoboken. It was time for the science teachers to learn a few new classroom tricks.

"It's always hard to come up with a hands-on activity to keep the kids engaged, at the same time, they can learn of basic scientific principles," said program director John Dineen.

"Really, research shows that teacher preparation is the best indicator of student success," said Mercedes McKay, with Stevens Institute.

One of the most important goals of the program is to teach the teachers how to bring their science lessons alive for students using simple materials that don't cost very much.

They studied global earthquake patterns, then designed structures that could withstand earthquakes by using sand, beverage cartons and drinking straws. They presented weather forecasts after studying computer models.

"All of the actual online projects are awesome because it shows real-life situations and brings them right into the classroom, so I think it shows a better connection for the kids," said Alexis Shalhoub, program participant.

The program, which began three summers ago, is sponsored by the science-oriented Honeywell Corporation.

"And over that past three years we've brought 75 teachers in to give them new tools to take back to their classrooms so they can inspire their students to go into the science and engineering fields," said Evan Vanhook, with the Honeywell Corporation.


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