Teachers become students to learn about new math, science and English teaching techniques

Jul 27, 2017

Teachers gathered at Legacy High School in Bismarck for training from the National Math and Science Initative.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

More than 150 teachers from across North Dakota gathered at Bismarck's Legacy High School for a "hands-on" training session.

The session was sponsored by the National Math and Science Initiative. It was designed to give teachers some real world exercises they could use in their classrooms.

In one classroom at Legacy, teachers were asked to make boxes out of paper and adhesive tape. The goal: to estimate the volume of material the box could hold.

"Everybody pack packages for Christmas," said Kidder County High School math teacher Tasha Martin. "We want Santa to bring us the most toys, so we need to figure out what kind of box we want to send to Santa."

Martin said she found the training very valuable.

"We're learning to use hands on experience, to bring in the rigor with hands on experience for the students," Martin said. "The fear of mathematics disappears, and the more fun aspects come into the classroom."

Martin said she is seeing an uptick among students interested in math and science.

"The more hands on is bringing that back," Martin said. "Dispelling the myths and the fears that math is too hard has helped that."

In anotehr classroom, teachers were using lab instruments and cans of Diet Coke and Mountain Dew filled with water. The purpose -- to measure heat transfer.

"We are doing thermo-dynamics," said Hiral Mathur, a trainer with NMSI. "Doing some lab activities on heat."

Mathur said there are a number of hands on demonstrations teachers can use in the lab.

"We're going to use Cheetos," Mathur said. "You can burn that, to see how many calories are in a Cheeto."

NMSI trainers said a goal is to inspire students to take more advanced placement courses.

"All of this is to lay the foundation to get the students into AP courses," said NMSI spokesman Juan Elizondo. "We want the students to be able to face the things they will face in careers, like collaboration and problem-solving, and critical thinking."

Teachers in a science lab at Legacy High School, doing an exercise on heat.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

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