Teachers Learn to Spark Student Interest in Math and Science

September 11, 2014 | Heidi Baumgartner

While students enjoy a summer break, many teachers go back to school in summer months to pursue professional growth.

Washington Conference teachers Dawn Campanello, Jorge Gandara, Connie Mitzelfelt, Greg Reseck and Monte Saxby participated in the EXSEED (Excellence in STEM Experimental Education) conference held at Loma Linda University Health. This five-day conference in June helped 100 teachers explore strategies to help students succeed in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“It is a K–12 program,” says Mitzelfelt, seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School in Auburn. “It was very hands-on. I loved the lectures by different scientists.”

In a particularly memorable keynote presentation, Charles F. McMillan, nuclear physicist and Los Alamos National Laboratory director, shared with teachers about the role they play in sparking students’ interest in math and science.

“He told us about the importance of engaging students in hands-on math and science in first and second grade,” Mitzelfelt remembers. McMillan shared research about how children who haven’t developed a foundation in math and science by fifth grade have a lessened likelihood of having an interest in these subjects in high school and college.

“One of the most exciting parts for me was pairing up for projects,” says Greg Reseck, principal and teacher at Cedarbrook Adventist School in Port Hadlock. Reseck and his students will be participating in a collaborative fish study with EXSEED partners in Auburn, Jamaica and Keene, Texas.

“I learned how important my job is in teaching math and science,” says Dawn Campanello, Kirkland Adventist School seventh-grade teacher. Campanello spent one-on-one time with a college physics professor. She was able to see his scientific collection and learn how to connect science and technology. “If we don’t do our job, then there will not enough scientists to fill various positions in the future.”