The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education, the working arm of the AIMS Education Foundation, has committed to helping teachers in the greater Central Valley of California pursue their Master’s degrees at Fresno Pacific University. To this end, funds have been set aside to scholarship teachers interested in earning one of the two MA degrees offered by FPU in Math or STEM Education. I would like to tell you about what the STEM Education Master’s candidates are doing during the week of June 19th, 2017, but first I need to give you some history.
Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and into the ‘90s, FPU Grad Math Science put on a series of summer Festivals. There were festivals in Mathematics, Science, and Technology. Hundreds of teachers would come to the Fresno campus in June for a two-week, day-long collection of courses taught by a variety of experts in their fields. To say that these festivals were life changing would be an understatement, and I can say this because I attended two of them myself in 1989 and 1990. These altered my professional trajectory for the rest of my life. I was not alone, just ask Lori Hamada, the Executive Director of the AIMS Center herself, she had a very similar experience. We were permanently changed by the hot, sweaty hours we spent solving problems for Father Stanley Bezuska, Lola May, Margaret (Peg) Kinney, Wil Reimer, and Jim Wilson, to name the most familiar names.
Unfortunately, these festivals have gone away in recent years. However, through the support of AIMS, FPU’s Master of Arts in STEM Education is once again offering something similar. This year is the second offering of the Engineering in the Classroom Festival. While we do not serve hundreds of teachers like those earlier festivals, we still have a strong and committed group of over 50 K-8th grade teachers who come early in the morning, stay late into the VERY hot afternoons, and they work hard to come to grips with the applications of the mathematical and scientific concepts they have been studying. In my next post I will go into greater detail on what sorts of things they are doing, but to give you a taste, these students are studying the simple machines that humans have discovered, how they can be used to create more complex machines that do the work our backs would prefer not to do. Furthermore, they are designing, modeling, bench testing, and re-designing apparatus to be attached to rockets to slow their descent (see video for one of the rocket engines being used with a car to discover Baseline data for their experiments). To top it off, they are also studying the physics and mathematics of intricate paper-folding techniques that allow such apparatus to be deployed in small volumes on these same rockets. All this amidst a very collegial and collaborative environment to boot.
Children ran from school buses with shrieks of excitement and expectations of what the next two and a half months might bring, the telltale sign that school is out for the summer in my town. Teachers have left their classrooms for a well-deserved break. Over the next two and half months they will imagine, think… Continue Reading
As we come to the end of another school year, our team here at the AIMS Center has been spending time reflecting on the past year of learning from students. We were asked the question, “If you could go back into the classroom, what would you do differently in regards to your math instruction?” I… Continue Reading
I have just concluded my second year at the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education in which our Center’s main focus is to learn how young children come to know math. Through our partnership with two Head Start early learning programs, the four AIMS early math research associates observed two sites that housed 10… Continue Reading
We have talked a lot about partners in the work we are doing here at the AIMS Center. Typically, we refer to our Head Start or school partners, but today I would like to broaden that description. I was invited to join a statewide group known as the California Community of Practice around Mathematics, sponsored… Continue Reading
Fidget spinners have suddenly become one of the hottest topics in education right now. They are the current craze with students all over the United States. Touted as a low-tech toy, they are perceived as being either helpful or harmful, depending who you ask. Countless articles, blogs, podcasts, interviews, etc. can be found each day… Continue Reading
After one month as a missionary in Argentina I was ready to raise the dead. Or at least that is what the woman at the door must have thought. Let me explain. As we were proselyting door to door, it was my turn to talk to whoever answered the door. A woman happened to answer… Continue Reading
A couple of weeks ago, my family and I made our annual spring trek to San Mateo, California to attend the Granddaddy of all Maker Faires. This faire, in its eleventh year, is the flagship of the Maker movement. In 2006, much to everyone’s surprise, 22,000 people gathered to participate in the inaugural event. Now,… Continue Reading
Our early math team has just finished up our work at several preschool sites for this school year and we’ve been reflecting on our experiences thus far. In conversations with teachers about what we’ve learned and how this experience has deepened our understanding of children’s mathematics, we’ve told lots of stories about particular children that… Continue Reading
On May 17, 2017, Diana Herrington, who taught at Clovis High School in the Clovis Unified School District for 30 years, tragically passed away. She was one of our most inspirational and influential mathematics teachers and math teacher educators, and her loss will be felt throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley, and the whole state… Continue Reading