Ophelia Craig, a science teacher at Fred Fifer III Middle School, completes the Summer STEM Enrichment Program. With the guidance of Dr. Qi Lu, Ms. Craig was able to explore the use of a variety of Vernier sensors to develop experiments for her energy and climate lessons. Below is her experience:
2016 Summer STEM Enrichment Program
for Middle School Teachers at OSCAR
by Ophelia Craig
During the 2016 Middle School STEM Enrichment Program sponsored by the Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) at Delaware State University, I have had the wonderful opportunity to dedicate four weeks of my summer gaining valuable information for my students. OSCAR graciously reached out to me to take advantage of this opportunity when I attended Physics Teachers Day in 2014. As a science teacher at Fred Fifer III Middle School, I am always looking at different materials I can use in the classroom as well as outside the classroom to enhance student learning. For example, after participating in the Kent County Science Fair four years in a row, I was able to share what I learned with students to improve their Science projects.
With the ever increasing demand/push to enhance the STEM education, I took advantage of the summer program to gather new information that I know my students will enjoy as we perform different labs in the classroom. With the help of my faculty mentor Dr. Qi Lu at OSCAR, I explored the use of temperature probes, pH sensors, conductivity probes, and gas pressure sensors from Vernier, a company specialized in teaching STEM with technology. Each of these sensors can be easily connected through an interface (hardware) that translates information from the sensor to graphing software (Logger Pro) on a computer. The integrated Vernier system allows students to be able to accurately collect data through the selection and use of tools and techniques appropriate to different investigations. In addition, the data collected will allow students to construct tables, diagrams and graphs in order to show the relationships between different variables. More importantly, students will be able to understand the underlying scientific principles based on their hand-on experience through the investigation. By introducing these labs in our classroom, students will enrich their STEM education through experience-based learning in addition to the traditional lecture-based learning.
For instance, an experiment I conducted here titled “Absorption of Light” can easily be used in our Transformation of Energy Unit as well as our Weather and Climate Unit. When teaching different lessons related to energy on our Earth, we can show through this experiment to our students how different color surfaces absorb light differently.
Finally, Dr. Lu and OSCAR will continue to provide support through mentoring and creation of a Science Resource Center for 15-20 Middle School Teachers. This will allow us to check out lab devices and materials (eg. Vernier interfaces and sensors) to use for specific labs that we may not have in our classrooms and the access to faculty support when we need it. Teachers will be able to visit the website oscar.desu.edu to check the availability of resources.