PITTSBURG — On Tuesday, George Nettels Elementary School fourth grade students walked over to Pittsburg State University to have a winter wonderland-themed science, technology, engineering and math lesson, taught by PSU students.

The College of Education and the College of Technology future educators came up with the STEM related lesson plans. Many of the students are Technical Literacy minors which is a partnership between the two colleges that allows future educators to get hands-on experience before teaching their own class.

Elementary Education Student Megan Goetz, who is a Technological Literacy STEM Minor, said learning how to apply STEM in the classroom will make combining STEM lessons with other lesson, saving time, she said.

“It is beneficial because in the classroom today there is not a lot of time … being able to immigrate the lessons saves a lot of time and makes for a better hands on learning,” she said.
Goetz said her experience was made possible through her minor, which created a blend of both education and technology in the classroom.

“I felt so much more prepared having this minor going into the education classes because I have already taught six lessons,” Goetz said.

Chemistry student Brendon Blackburn said being able to practice this type of teaching and creating STEM related lesson plans will help in the future where he plans to teach in secondary education.

The combined coursework provides hand on experiences rather than sitting in a lecture,  Instructor in the College of Education Tracy Rampy said.

She said the connection between the colleges have advantages.

“They have all the equipment, the knowledge of STEM related works, so we can do more than talk about it, we can do it and we can build it and we can experience it over here,” Rampy said.  

“It’s a nice blend of different pedagogies of both colleges and the hands-on experiences that they are not going to get from the other unless we work together.”

Rampy said the hands-on experience was also made possible with the partnership with prekindergarten through twelfth grade partners in the community with Pittsburg USD 250.

They will learn how to apply knowledge with hands-on experiences by interacting with students and can become better candidates for teaching jobs they will soon be applying to, Assistant Professor of Technology and Engineering Education Byron McKay said.

“If they are going to be teachers they need the experience of teaching,” he said.

During the field trip, the elementary students were split into groups where they did STEM related activities.

In one room the students learned about different types and parts of bridges.

The elementary students used connectable blocks to try to create a bridge strong enough to withstand the weight of a sleigh with around 10 grams of weights.

Secondary Technology Education Student Sarah Arnold said one of the goals is to help students realize the structures around them and how they work.

Students made sleighs out of food and their goal was to make it to grandma’s house at the bottom of an incline.

“They have to brainstorm and problem solve, consider the weight and materials to get task accomplished,” Goetz said.  

In another group the fourth graders connected circuits and when the circuit was complete, the lights went on the Christmas tree,” Blackburn said.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.