Professionals in STEM, IT, and related fields recognize the value of providing outreach and support to K-12 educators. Bringing role models and real experts into the classroom can support student engagement along with increasing interest in career paths and applications. However, time is a valuable currency in the classroom. Teachers are often tasked with meeting extensive curriculum goals and success is often determined by mandated testing. They often struggle with justifying taking time from the packed curricular schedule and need to be convinced of the value of bringing in outside experts and mentors. This workshop will prepare outreach volunteers make the best use of classroom time by highlighting connections that can be made to key skills, content, and standards.
- To highlight key skills that visiting professionals and mentors can focus on. Most educators recognize the need to develop skills such as problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and systems thinking. Providing clear connections to and reinforcement of the value of these skills in various career fields can further help educators and students recognize the value beyond core curricular content.
- To provide outreach volunteers with guidelines for key topics covered at various grade levels and methods for gauging the level of understanding of students they work with.
Ann Kaiser, CEO and STEM Education Consultant
Ann Kaiser is a former engineer with 15 years of experience in secondary education. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (B.S. Metallurgy and Materials Science) and the School of International and Public Affairs (Masters in International Affairs), she is a lifelong advocate of engineering as an agent for creative global problem-solving and innovation. As a member of the prestigious International Fellows program at Columbia, Ann focused on work involving world resources and technology transfer. As an engineer, her field of expertise was product and market development in the metals industry. As an educator, Ann’s main interest is in attracting creative, innovative young people to technical fields by exposing them to the possibilities and promises of Engineering. She founded ProjectEngin in 2014 in order to be able to more effectively support schools, districts, and educators interested in highlighting the E in STEM.
Following a career change from engineering product development to secondary school teaching, Ann became interested in active learning techniques, particularly project-based learning. Her concern about the lack of encouragement for creativity and innovative thinking in traditional science courses led her to replace verification labs with engineering design based projects. Increased student interest led her to develop a separate Engineering Design curriculum 9 years ago. That course has now been replicated in eight high schools and has provided the impetus for a number of students to go on to pursue engineering majors in college. In addition to supporting those programs, ProjectEngin works with K-12 schools and educators throughout the country to support the inclusion of Engineering Design in a wide range of courses and programs. ProjectEngin’s innovative curriculum modules, focusing on Engineering Design challenges based on global issues, biomimetic solutions, and literary connections are currently being piloted and introduced in a wide range of settings. Their teacher workshops are known for a high level of interaction and the modeling of practices that can easily be incorporated into any classroom.
Ann was named a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher in 2013. She spent six months in Singapore working to implement Engineering Design projects as Performance Tasks in secondary physics classes. Ann was also named a Top Overseas Teacher by the Singaporean Ministry of Education and invited back to speak at the 2014 Teachers Conference. In March 2015, she was the keynote speaker at the national Danish Big Bang Conference in Roskilde as a guest of Engineer the Future Dk. She has been a guest on a number of national education talk radio programs, often including educators that ProjectEngin has worked with. Ann was also named the 2017 New England Regional Micro-Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA. She is a member of the Network of Science Teachers (a selective MIT collaboration with science teachers on an international
level), NSTA, RISTA, ASEE, ITEEA, AAPT, and ASCD. Ann has presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences. She has authored several technical papers detailing her research in Singapore and the effectiveness of the Engineering Design process in learning science concepts. Ann is currently in the process of writing a book designed to guide teachers interested in including Engineering Design practices and thinking in their classes.