Reprinted from the Crimson White.
For the third year, teachers from around the state and southeast regions will be traveling to the University’s ASM Material Camp. The camp is designed to guide middle and high school science teachers on interactive ways to instruct students in the physical sciences. The camp will be June 3-7 on campus.
Dr. Martin Bakker, associate professor of chemistry, was approached in late 2010 by ASM International to host a camp. The first materials camp drew 18 teachers; the second year attracted 23. Bakker said the purpose of the camp is to show teachers experiments using common materials found at local home improvement stores.
“The philosophy of the week is for the teacher to show students experiments that attract their attention,” Bakker said. “Afterward teachers can explain how it’s important and what students can learn from it.”
Dr. Greg Thompson, professor in the department of metallurgical and materials engineering, joined Bakker in 2012 to co-host the second materials camp. Thompson said teachers need to engage middle school and high school students in science, math and engineering.
“The interest in science should not start the day the student steps foot onto a college campus,” Thompson said. “The time to get them to understand and engage is in middle school. Even high school is a little too late.”
Bakker and Thompson have begun to recruit attendees for the 2013 ASM Materials Camp. Interested middle and high school teachers can complete applications for this summer and apply for scholarships to cover travel, lodging and other related expenses. On-campus housing is available upon request. Teachers may earn credit for certification and professional development on completion of the camp.
Previous camp attendees have come from Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Bakker and Thompson said that last year they saw smaller participation from the west Alabama region, and hoped for more participation this year. They encouraged faculty and staff to seek out local teachers, whether they are personal acquaintances, friends or their child’s instructor.
“Getting the word out to teachers is critical so that they can take advantage of opportunities where they can devise new ways to invigorate science and math concepts in the classroom for our kids,” Thompson said.
The camp provides opportunities for UA to connect with local teachers. The new relationships created at the camp allow teachers to use the campus’s scientific equipment, either through field trips or checking out material kits. ASM also gives teachers who participate an opportunity to apply for grants from its foundation to purchase more expensive equipment or experiment kits.
UA supports the camp both financially and through its facilities, Bakker and Thompson said. The ASM Materials Camp is beneficial to the University, the teacher attendees and, most importantly, students in middle school and high school science classes, Bakker said.
“If a teacher has the tools, they can catch the imagination of the student,” Bakker said.
“Once you spark their attention, then you can teach,” Thompson said.
ASM Materials Camp is part of ASM International, a society dedicated to serving the materials science and engineering profession. Through its network of 36,000 members worldwide, ASM provides authoritative information and knowledge on materials and processes, from the structural to the nanoscale.
If interested in learning more about the camp or recommending a teacher, contact Bakker, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Thompson, email@example.com.