For the third consecutive year, the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering hosted a teacher-education camp organized by the American Society for Materials.
Sixteen teachers attended this year’s Materials Camp—Teachers, which was held at the college from June 26 through June 30. The ultimate goal of the one-week camp is to increase the number of college students who study science and engineering, particularly materials science, said David Fitzgerald, chair of the camp organizing committee.
The most effective way to do this, he said, is to show teachers new experiments and educational techniques that engage students. Each camp is taught by two certified high school-level Master Teachers who introduce and explain these experiments.
“We have a fear in this country that we’re loosing our technological edge,” Fitzgerald said. “We think that if students are exposed to the sciences in an interesting and exciting manner they’ll be more inclined to study it in college.”
Among the “interesting and exciting” experiments introduced at the camp were a method of creating fake snow using sodium polyacrylate, a plastics lab where teachers were taught how to make mini plastic footballs, and a glass blowing session.
Since the camp is a relatively new endeavor, there is no data on its effectiveness, Fitzgerald said. The response from those attending the camp, however, has been extremely encouraging. “We’ve gotten phenomenally positive feedback,” said Fitzgerald. “That accounts for the fact that a lot of new students here every year find out about the camp through word of mouth.”