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Teachers get hands-on STEM training


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Teachers learn ways to teach about the Earth and moon. | Mike Price,

IDAHO FALLS — Teachers are learning new ways to teach STEM to their students and gaining some new skills while they’re at it.

Over four days, starting Monday, educators from around the state will be gathered at the College of Eastern Idaho learning new, hands-on ways to teach their K-12 students Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with the i-STEM program.

I-STEM is a state program focused on helping educators implement STEM in their classrooms by offering classes known as “strands” at CEI, College of Southern Idaho, Idaho State University, College of Western Idaho, North Idaho College and Lewis-Clark State College.

“For every activity we do, you get to actually make (the project) and then you get the supplies to take to your classroom. So all the prep work is done for you,” i-STEM provider Debra Beard said.

This year’s i-STEM theme is “project-based learning.” Educators applied for strands about ecosystems, space, 3D printing and design, coding and math.

The coding class called “Anyone Can Code” is being taught by a history teacher who was asked by his school’s principal to begin a robotics programming course. He took a coding course himself so he could teach his students and even attended last year’s i-STEM conference.

“For the past two years it’s been learn one day, teach the next day,” i-STEM provider and Bear Lake middle school history teacher Charles Horikami said. “If I can learn it, anybody can learn it.”

A teacher learns coding. | Mike Price,

Horikami said he has a variety of teachers in his class, with or without coding experience.

Those teachers who were able to get into the 3D printing and design course, “FabSLAM 3D design and Fabrication,” get to take a 3D printer back to their schools with them.

“What they’re learning is designing and how to solve a problem, how to take math and science and use the 3D printer as a tool for those areas,” CEI Business and Technology instructor Frankie Adams said.

Beard said the teachers who have attended i-STEM in the past have enjoyed the classes and learned a lot.

“A lot of workshops that differ from STEM workshops is you’ll go and hear about how to do it, but you sit all day. Here, you’re actually up, moving around. You can ask questions and apply it. Whatever (you do), you can take it right back (to the classroom,)” Beard said.