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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

UF faculty taught Alachua County elementary school teachers the importance of STEM during a National Science Foundation-sponsored showcase Wednesday.

Chelsey Simmons, a UF mechanical and aerospace engineering assistant professor, said the program, held at the Cade Museum, was the first of several events to encourage teachers to teach about science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, in their classrooms. She said the program, called Engineering for Biology: Multidisciplinary Research Experiences for Teachers, will be funded for the next three years with a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Simmons said UF planned the event because research shows that students decide if they like math or science before they are eight years old. She said teachers should be encouraging their students to learn about STEM topics early.

“Elementary school teachers have the power to create future engineers based on how they teach and express a love for math and science in the classroom,” she said. “The event benefits teachers the most.”

More than 70 teachers and administers attended the showcase, which faculty in the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and UF College of Education helped organize. During the event, UF engineering graduate students presented STEM techniques to teachers and several experts in STEM fields gave speeches.

Chloe Campbell, a 25-year-old third-grade teacher at Alachua Elementary School, said she attended the event to learn more how to incorporate STEM topics into her classroom.

She said learning about STEM teaches students the importance of persevering and continuing to work even if they fail the first time.

“This is a great program for students to learn about STEM fields and job opportunities in the future,” Campbell said. “The students can see how it's all connected.”

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