UW Educators Take Part in Statewide STEAM Conference

Rebecca Upjohn, a fifth-year graduate student in UW’s Program in Ecology and a 2017-18 LAMP fellow, presents during last week’s Roadmap to STE(A)M Conference in Gillette. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming students and educators joined Wyoming K-12 teachers and community college colleagues last week at a conference in Gillette to enhance their hands-on teaching skills.

The Wyoming Department of Education’s Roadmap to STE(A)M Conference was a professional development opportunity focused on active-learning experiences with high-level engagement and innovative practices and instructional strategies to prepare students for success. The theme of this year’s conference was “Exploring Makerspaces.”

UW’s Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP) awarded eight scholarships to K-12 educators from Wyoming schools to attend:

— Rock Springs High School — Larissa Apel and Deborah Jensen.

— Wyoming Indian School — Keith Bauder.

— Moorcroft Elementary School — Jenna Thomas.

— Laramie High School — Rebecca Watson.

— Campbell County School District — Lisa Geer and Julie Rankin.

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Jeanie Cooper, of St. Stephens School, also was funded but was unable to attend due to a family death.

A fifth-year graduate student in UW’s Program in Ecology, Rebecca Upjohn was a 2017-18 LAMP fellow, and she presented at the conference on the yearlong instructional project that she designed and piloted in the poisonous plants course for which she was the lead instructor.

Undergraduate student Olivia Croft, a sophomore from Sundance in the Wyoming Research Scholars Program (WRSP), also attended the conference as a spokesperson for the WRSP/LAMP Roadshow. Throughout the 2018-19 academic year, the Roadshow will take WRSP students to the classrooms of the LAMP scholarship-winning teachers to engage their K-12 students in active learning. Upjohn and LAMP Director Rachel Watson will accompany WRSP students to Wyoming schools.

“Among hundreds of educators at this year’s Roadmap to STE(A)M conference, the LAMP-funded educators stood out,” Rachel Watson says. “They seamlessly integrated science into hands-on, minds-on projects that inspire students to truly transformative, creative endeavors. We thank the Wyoming Department of Education for the ongoing partnership and opportunity to be a part of the Roadmap to STE(A)M Conference. We are so excited to continue our travels across the state of Wyoming, where both the students and educators inspire us.”

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Other LAMP fellows attending the conference included Rosemary McBride, of Laramie County Community College’s agroecology/natural resource economics program, and Sridhar Budhi (chemistry) and Dinesh Kasti (mathematics), of Eastern Wyoming College.

K-12 educators who won the LAMP scholarship to the Roadmap to STE(A)M Conference in 2017 presented on their active-learning projects as well. Michelle Aldrich spoke about her integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in family and consumer sciences courses. She taught Cheyenne high school students animal husbandry and food production through the creation of a bee apiary. Iva Moss-Redman presented on an integrated project in which Fremont County students applied their math skills to engineer and build a teepee.

Active learning, a foundational element of the UW Science Initiative, is a process in which students are required to synthesize and apply their knowledge rather than just memorize. It requires doing rather than observing and can range in scope from small learning activities to the format for the entire class. LAMP is a comprehensive, sustained mentoring and professional development program for educators with an emphasis on how to best adopt active-learning strategies in their classrooms.

WRSP, also part of UW’s Science Initiative, pairs undergraduate students with faculty mentors to participate in research for multiple years.