MSU Engineering’s Research Experiences for Teachers Program

C3-PO, Optimus Prime, and Bender: These are 3 robots that have captivated our imagination. But could robots be used to help make better science teachers?

This summer, middle- and high-school science teachers from around Michigan will gather at MSU for a very real robotics-themed program: Engineering’s Research Experiences for Teachers Program. Here, teachers have the opportunity to refine and infuse excitement in teaching STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This program recently received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to train 10 to 12 teachers yearly for the next three years.

“These days, robots are something everyone can relate to,” said Xiaobo Tan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, BEACONite, and project co-director. “And it works well for us because as a discipline, in terms of research and education, robotics is very multidisciplinary, covering physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and others.”

The teachers will be working side-by-side in labs with eleven MSU faculty members and their graduate students from four College of Engineering departments. They will learn research methods and develop innovative curricula for their own classes, with the ultimate goal of inspiring students to pursue STEM careers.

“Many of the teachers in our schools are teaching the same way they’ve done it in the past,” said Drew Kim, assistant to the dean of the MSU College of Engineering and co-director of the project. “The STEM field is constantly evolving and students need to be better prepared for their careers.”

We hope these robots will help them do just that.

[This is a reposted excerpt from my work in the BEACON Buzz]

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