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Research Institute partnership with Kettering schools will help teachers learn, integrate sciences, arts into classroom

Bringing science, technology, engineering, arts and math to younger students can influence career choices. By the time they reach the sixth grade, most girls already have a career in mind; for boys it is ninth grade. 

"These statistics underscore the importance of introducing science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) curricula to students well before they reach junior high and high school," said Bern Schwieterman, STEAM coach for all eight elementary schools in the Kettering City School District. "Research shows that, even if they're not fully aware of it, students begin navigating toward a career path at a relatively young age."  

Schwieterman and 45 teachers from Oakview Elementary School spent several hours at the University of Dayton Research Institute Oct. 14, touring labs and learning about advances in science and technology they could share with students. The tour was part of a new STEAM partnership between Oakview and UDRI, designed to help teachers learn and integrate new arts and sciences information into the classroom. 

"We're looking for tools and resources that will motivate the students and get them excited about career possibilities they might not even be aware of," Schwieterman said. "And it's important that the teachers are motivated as well, because when they get excited about information, it's easier to share that excitement with their students. That's why we're so grateful to our STEAM partners for immersive opportunities like this tour." 

As the teachers began the tour, hosted by the Research Institute's sustainment technologies transition division, Schwieterman encouraged them to "keep in mind our vision that we want our students to be successful. As you look around, ask yourselves, 'how can we bring what we see today into our classrooms? How can we help our students understand what is possible for them?'"

Brian Stitt, division head for sustainment technologies transition at UDRI, underscored the importance of exposing students to STEAM curricula throughout their academic careers, and especially when they're young. 

"At the speed with which advances in the sciences and technology are being made, children may not see all of these new technologies at home. Through these partnerships, however, they will be exposed to many of these technologies at school, starting at the elementary level. This early exposure can generate interest in STEAM, allowing it to build through their academic career," Stitt said. 

Stitt said UDRI researchers will continue to support STEAM programming at Oakview by providing classroom visits, tours for students or other teaching resources that can help make student learning experiences more authentic. 

"We're excited about the opportunity to help bring these concepts to elementary school students, because we know that increases the chances of a future career in STEAM, with the goal of growing and retaining talent in our local communities," Stitt said.

For more information or interviews, contact Pamela Gregg, UDRI communication administrator, at 937-229-3268 or pamela.gregg@udri.udayton.edu.


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