University of Wisconsin-Platteville Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Scott Melin said it’s an honor to be selected to the 2019-20 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars program. Melin is one of three UW-Platteville faculty members chosen as teaching fellows. The program supports outstanding educators in pursuing teaching and learning questions emerging from the classroom.
Melin’s research is centered around a STEM outreach service-learning project in partnership with the first and second grade classrooms at Westview Elementary School in Platteville, and the students of the mechanical systems lab course at UW-Platteville. At the beginning of the semester engineering students visit the elementary school and give a presentation of the school’s science curriculum and meet with the young students.
“The students participate in a brainstorming activity where the elementary students draw pictures about a measurement they would like to take. After the visit, student teams from the mechanical systems lab participate in a six week long design project to build handheld measurement systems,” said Melin. “The student teams return to the elementary classrooms with the devices and present on their design process. The systems are left with the elementary classrooms to complement their curriculum and give hands-on measurement opportunities to the elementary students.”
In the upcoming school year Melin’s focus is to look at the student experience of those participating in the lab course. “I will be looking at the development of student civic responsibility, as well as their ability to adapt their communication style appropriately for various technical and non-technical audiences,” he said.
Through the year-long Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Melin is able to discuss his project with colleagues from across the UW System. “The summer institute has already been instrumental in identifying a cohort of peers across the UW System who have similar interests in community-based learning,” he said. “Conversations with these peers have been and will be transformative for us all, giving us an opportunity to share our expertise and expedite the learning process, as we delve into new areas of research and learn the best practices.”
As Melin continues to work on his project he’s looking forward to gaining traction and formalizing some of the work he’s been doing with the elementary school. “I hope to take this year to investigate some interesting themes, improve the student experience in my classroom and build a relationship that is mutually beneficial in the long term for both UW-Platteville and Westview.”
Melin will be recognized at UW-Platteville’s convocation in August with the other university award winners.