OSU Extension trains educators to teach STEM skills

solar car STEM learning
Madeline Coe of Aurora (left) and Itavi Stearns of Canby explain how solar model cars work at a STEM event in 2015.

At least 650 students benefit from a renewable energy education program

Strengthening student learning in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is widely recognized as a national challenge.

To engage students in these subjects, OSU Extension assists in offering the free Renewable Energy Education Program. As part of this, OSU Extension trains educators to teach scientific inquiry, problem-solving and critical thinking skills through hands-on experiments and activities around energy, electricity and conservation. Through the program, OSU Extension mentors teachers while delivering a 14-hour hands-on energy curriculum during school hours in Clackamas County.

After one or two years of mentoring, teachers then take over the lessons and use teaching kits prepared by OSU Extension. At least 650 students at 11 schools in Clackamas County participated in 2016. In surveys, each participating teacher said the program was of great value to them and their students and plan to participate next year. Several teachers plan to teach the lessons themselves, while other schools have already registered to have OSU instructors visit their classrooms next year.

“There is so much more now that I know about atoms, wind energy, solar energy, renewable and nonrenewable sources, circuits, conductors and insulators,” said a sixth grader at Lee Elementary in Canby. Her classmate wrote in a thank you note to the 4-H instructor, “You expanded my knowledge and my science vocabulary—with words like ‘hypothesis’ and ‘parallel circuit.’ I hope you can come back next year.”

Source: Janet Nagele, 4-H Youth Development Agent

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