In June, Sweet Briar and Lynchburg College hosted the “Central Virginia Consortium Conference,” the result of a 19-month project funded by a $199,502 grant from the Virginia Department of Education. During the 2011-12 school year, 17 local teachers were trained in inquiry pedagogy and developed, implemented, assessed and reviewed experiment-driven lessons to create six fully integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) units for grades 4 and 5.
Teacher participants were walked through the hands-on lessons and techniques, which ranged from introducing squeamish kids to live earthworms to racing matchbox cars carrying magnets to learn about induction and electrical engineering. Fifth-grade lessons included “Earth Shaking Tsunamis,” “Dance by Numbers” and “Cookie Mystery.”
The project launched in March 2011 under the lead of chemistry professor Jill Granger and engineering director Hank Yochum, along with adjunct biology professor Arlene Vinion-Dubiel.
All six STEM lessons and instructional videos can be downloaded for free at stem4teachers.org. Conference instructors and attendees planned to implement the lessons in the 2012-13 school year in the city of Lynchburg and surrounding counties.