Valparaiso Teachers Go Full STEAM Ahead on the Educator Train

Valparaiso Teachers Go Full STEAM Ahead on the Educator Train
By: Center of Workforce Innovations Last Updated: July 13, 2017

Over 20 Valparaiso teachers took part in a two-day Educator’s STEAM Camp on June 28-29, 2017. Although the teachers were officially on summer break, many couldn’t pass up taking part in this information packed camp that focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), organized by Olga Granat from Valparaiso Community School’s Instructional Technology Department and Erin Hawkins, principal at Flint Lake Elementary School.

The first day was held at Talltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso and featured a workshop and presentations.

Cindi Ward and Chad Hunter from Centier Bank presented on the importance of teaching financial literacy to students; Dr. Anastasia Treckles from Purdue Northwest shared a number of technology resources available to educators; Taltree Arborist Craig Gress provided a tour of the arboretum and gardens; Rachel Silcox and Dylan Antonides, both engineering and solar energy research students at Valparaiso University, provided their stories of the journey that led them on a STEAM career path; and at the end of the day, educators had an interactive conference call discussion with former Valparaiso High School student Kate Manning from her office at NASA where she serves as an engineer.

The teachers also engaged in a hands-on team science project, led by the Valparaiso University students and resulting in the building of a portable solar s’mores oven using cardboard, aluminum foil, paper plate, plastic wrap, black paper, and wooden or metal skewers. Key concepts covered during the project by the students were energy and solar power.

On day two, the educators went on tours that were helped organized by the Center of Workforce Innovations; discovering local companies from the manufacturing and technology industries many didn’t know existed.

“Learning about the products produced and the work being done by these companies has given them a better understanding on how their classrooms are essential in building interest among students to consider a STEAM-based career path, “ said Erin Hawkins.

“Especially for the many in-demand jobs that these manufacturing and technology-related companies have opening up,” added Olga Granat. The educators visited the following manufacturers: Thorgren Industries, Custom Crimp, and Solid Platforms, as well as CSI who provides financial technology solutions and regulatory compliance software to banks, financial institutions, and other industries.

Valparaiso School Corporation is a READY NWI Education Team member.