Teachers report for STEM boot camp

A participant conducts a fire experiment at the STEM boot camp here July 16-18. A number of K-12 educators from around the region gathered at the Academy to learn more about how they can effectively lead and teach STEM-related academics in their communities. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sarah Chambers)

A participant conducts a fire experiment at the STEM boot camp here July 16-18. A number of K-12 educators from around the region gathered at the Academy to learn more about how they can effectively lead and teach STEM-related academics in their communities. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sarah Chambers)

Mr. Chris Seaver, Dept. of Aeronautics deputy director for laboratory operations, shows the STEM teachers a model of the 5th Generation Aerial Target Drone during a visit to the Aero Lab. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sam Lee)

Mr. Chris Seaver, Dept. of Aeronautics deputy director for laboratory operations, shows the STEM teachers a model of the 5th Generation Aerial Target Drone during a visit to the Aero Lab. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sam Lee)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Teachers across the state of Colorado came to the Academy July 16-18 for an educational "boot camp" focused on helping them become community leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math studies.

Training classes and workshops conducted over the three-day program highlighted the significance of STEM academics and create a community-based partnership with the Academy.

"I am excited about looking at community STEM opportunities at USAFA," said Robert Bowes, a first-year engineering educator in the Adams 12 school district.

Other activities during the boot camp included field trips to Academy labs, classroom visits to schools by faculty and cadets, science fair judging and STEM team mentoring. This is the fourth straight year the Academy hosted the program for regional communities, and this continues to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

"We also try and act as a conduit to information about STEM programs here in Colorado as well as nationally," said Julie Imada, a research publicist at the Academy Research Center. "We have a Cadet Wing STEM Outreach Club that has served more than 1,700 hours of community service in the last year alone and they are available to support regional STEM events, classrooms and efforts."

Imada said the Academy's STEM programs benefit not only from community support, but also local education networks and organizations such as the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education to open doors and create partnerships within the STEM-related industry.

"Some of the success stories that have come out of this regional STEM effort ... are the creation of a regional STEM consortium and 'eleSTEMary,'" she said. "In the past four years we have (had) educators from as far away as Maine, New Jersey, Arizona and Oklahoma attend."

The boot camps are funded by the National Defense Education Program under the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Participants receive a stipend for attending and continuing education credits from the Colorado School of Mines, and rental programs are available for the regional educators to rent STEM kits for use in their classrooms.

"This is my first time here and I am trying to find ways to incorporate this information into the classroom and make it valuable to the 21st century learner," said Chris Wright, a teacher from Deer Creek Middle School. "We are building things, collaborating, and learning teamwork and those are skills kids need that they struggle with."

For more information about the Academy's STEM programs and the STEM Outreach Club, visit http://www.usafa.edu/df/dfe/dfer/centers/stem/ and follow on Twitter: @msauroraphd.