As part of our ongoing mission to bring high-quality, equitable STEM learning to students everywhere, Diana Christopherson, one of EiE®’s Professional Development Managers, has just returned from a trip to Nome, Alaska supporting a training opportunity for local STEM educators.
Joining Diana on site in Nome was Director at Northwestern Alaska Career and Technical Center (NACTEC), Doug Walrath, PhD, who helped organize the four-day training. NACTEC was developed by the Bering Strait School District (BSSD) and Nome Public Schools (NPS) in response to the vastness of the districts as a regional vocational training center to provide students with learning and skill development opportunities.
"Having the EiE training delivered in Nome is the most effective way of preparing teachers from fifteen remote village communities to help provide an equitable balance in bringing STEM education to some of the most remote communities in the U.S,” said Dr. Walrath.
“The first day [of the training] was with 5 NACTEC STEM teachers who work with students on-site throughout the school year,” said Diana. When the educators are not traveling to remote villages to support learning there, “[students] come and use EiE units during their stay there at the NACTEC House,” she explained. The first day of training included an introduction into EiE’s teaching methodology and a deep-dive into our Shake Things Up: Engineering Earthquake-Resistant Buildings unit, a relevant topic for the earthquake-prone state.
The second training focused on our Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills unit, and included an additional 13 teachers from the Bering Strait School District. “Their sites are in [such] remote areas of the school district, only one teacher was able to drive in, the others had to be flown into Nome,” said Diana of their dedication to the training.
The third training included a unit walkthrough of Go Fish: Engineering Prosthetic Tails, and the last day supported local preschool teachers from the Nome Preschool and Kawerak Head Start Program and included a deep dive into Wee Engineer®.
Educators left the training feeling confident and ready to implement and use EiE’s teaching practices and units in their own classrooms. “It [was] a very interesting and eye opening experience,” noted Francis Uy, Grade 3 Educator from BSSD, “even as an adult it was very enjoyable and insightful.”
NACTEC’s work in Alaska proves that no matter how remote, or how far the distance between educators, quality STEM education can bring everyone together for exciting learning opportunities.
If you are interested in a professional development opportunity for your school or district please contact your local EiE Representative or request a custom quote for a professional development opportunity on our website.