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Educators kick-start summer with interactive STEM courses

ORAU concludes first week of free technology professional development workshops

June 6, 2014

Ron Hickland with Ebonite International uses bowling balls in a density demonstration during Tuesday’s Using Bowling to Engage Students workshop.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—More than 150 K–12 educators gathered in ORAU’s Center for Science Education this week to participate in a variety of technology professional development workshops. The free workshops offered educators the chance to enhance their STEM knowledge and curricula through hands–on experiences.

Tuesday’s workshop, Using Bowling to Engage Students, examined the engineering behind the design and fabrication of a bowling ball. Educators explored concepts such as density and volume through various experiments using bowling balls and a tank full of water. Through these experiences educators learned that an 11 pound bowling ball will float due to its density being less than that of water.

“This [bowling workshop] was fantastic,” said Colleen Mattison, assistant principal at Heritage High School. “It gave us a chance to not only enjoy the presenter’s information regarding the bowling ball, but also take it back, and we are going to launch a school–wide project based on this.”

On Thursday, educators attended Engineering is Elementary, an inquiry–based STEM curriculum workshop focused on the engineering design process that teaches students the thinking and reasoning skills needed to solve problems systematically. Participants were able to test a variety of hands–on lessons including one where they had to use limited resources to build a platform for a stuffed animal which taught the groups the evolution of engineering, problem solving and team work.

ORAU’s technology professional workshops continue through the month of June.

Second-week workshops include:

  • June 9—Using Twitter to Engage Students
  • June 10—Using GPS in the Classroom
  • June 11—Excel: Data Management and Presentation
  • June 12—Teaching Climate Change
  • June 13—iPads in the Classroom

Teachers should apply for workshops at

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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