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Summer SET Sail STEM Educator Training

  POSTED ON: Monday, July 22, 2019 12:00 AM by Sarah Durkin

"The USNA SET Sail STEM Educator Training was energetic, informative, and filled with activities to take home and use in my classroom. I feel recharged and empowered to teach students about a variety of STEM topics with authentic, engaging and uncomplicated activities," shared Sue Engelsman, Harding School, New Jersey, after attending the SET Sail program this July.

SET Sail, an annual summer educator program, includes two week-long residential sessions offered onsite at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. SET Sail I was held July 8-11, hosting 41 teachers from Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, Belgium, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea. SET Sail II was held July 14-18, hosting 44 public and private school teachers representing 24 states. The teachers were housed at nearby St. John’s College and participated in intense training in Project-Based Learning (PBL) at the U.S. Naval Academy. 

The teachers became students for the week and settled in to discover hands-on projects that they can replicate in their classrooms to demonstrate science, engineering and math concepts connected to real world applications as well as supporting educational standards. They explored encryption and applications to cyber security. In the chemistry lab, they experimented with pinhole photography and developing prints, as well as electrochemistry and applications to corrosion. Teachers tested applied math activities in topics including inverse problems, data science, sequences and series, conic sections, and more. They learned principles of fluids and hands-on ways to demonstrate these principles to their students. While learning about electronics, teachers further developed their own technical skills in soldering. Many more topics were covered including materials engineering, bioterrorism, thermodynamics, physics and space, sensors and coding, and hydraulics. Activities were designed to be readily incorporated into the classroom using low cost resources and inquiry-based learning.

Two design competitions were held each week, using the engineering design process to develop solutions to a challenge with common everyday items as supplies. Teachers worked in teams to tackle two environmental challenges. "Operation Ocean Cleanup" involved designing and constructing a device and process to remove microplastics from a model of the ocean. "Save our Shoreline", a final challenge at the end of each week, tasked teachers with fabricating a means of minimizing erosion and flooding on a model of the Annapolis shoreline subjected to simulated storm run-off and a storm surge. Teams also had to consider the environmental impact and cost of their designs.

SET Sail II participants were offered the opportunity to also participate in a collaborative workshop with NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Teachers learned how to use NOAA's activities and classroom resources to teach about ocean exploration and how underwater remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) are used for research. In this combined workshop, teachers learned the skill sets to build SeaPerch underwater ROVs, a kit which can be built and modified by students, and which teachers were able to take back to the classroom.

Attendees benefitted from sharing information, networking, and collaborating with fellow teachers across schools, grade levels, and disciplines, while building confidence in their ability to use this methodology in the classroom. They received curriculum and materials to take home and implement the activities and methodology in their schools. DoDEA teacher, Wanda Wilds, commented: “I am leaving with a renewed excitement to integrate STEM in my classroom. I cannot wait to use the activities and share with my colleagues. This is a fantastic program!”

Event Photos- Week 1

Event Photos- Week 2

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