Area high school teachers from across Wisconsin met virtually with engineering professors from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science for the STEMStart Summer Institute. The two-day event took place on Aug. 3-4. STEMStart is an early college credit program for engineering. UW-Platteville offers two courses for high school students: General Engineering 1030, Introduction to Engineering Projects for one credit and General Engineering 1320, Engineering Graphics for two-credits.
“Students can receive dual credit at the university and in their high schools; it is an enriching program,” said Jodean Grunow, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics. “It’s an online course. The professors deliver their materials, but they also have interesting investigations that go along with each of the components. Those investigations are designed for the high school teachers to work with their students on the in-class explorations. This makes this early college credit program unique.”
Grunow, who has led the training the past two summers, said professors from the College of EMS gave presentations of their area of study. She notes the presentations give high school teachers the opportunity to meet with the college instructors while learning about the different areas of engineering.
“One of the things that happens with students who come to the university thinking of major in engineering, is they aren’t always aware of the several facets of engineering,” Grunow said. “This is a course that allows students to gain that knowledge. They will know what industrial engineering is as opposed to mechanical engineering, civil engineering and so on.”
According to Grunow, research shows students interests in STEM often starts at a young age and expands in middle and high school. STEMStart allows high school students to become familiar with UW-Platteville, gain a better understanding of engineering while partaking in explorations at their own school.
“We have the opportunity to meet with these excellent high school teachers who are interested in making this work for their students,” Grunow said. “We want to have students be able to exercise some of those things they think about with STEM. This gives them a chance to get hands-on with the kinds of things that would be used in good STEM courses, especially in engineering courses.”
The summer institute training highlights the camaraderie not only between UW-Platteville and the participating school districts, but between the high school students and their teachers.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Grunow. “It’s exciting for excellent students to get a chance to participate in the program. It’s motivating for the teachers who work with them. It’s a unique experience for the university engineers to connect with beginning students.”