Over 75 students entering grades 6, 7, and 8 participated in a free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) enrichment program at NFA this summer. Guided by NFA faculty in collaboration with aspiring teachers from UConn’s Neag School of Education, the young students from Norwich and surrounding towns received a summer boost in their STEM education with hands-on learning to explore creative approaches to scientific questions, applying mathematics to modern day problems, and solving complex STEM problems, while having fun working in teams with new friends.
The program is the first student-teaching classroom experience for the aspiring educators currently earning state certification to become STEM teachers as part of the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates (TCPCG). Head of NFA’s Science Department Stephani Jones worked with John Settlage, professor of science teacher education at the UConn Avery Point campus, to bring the enrichment program to NFA’s Broadway campus for two weeks, July 9-12 and August 6-9.
During each of the two four-day programs, pre-service teachers teach classes and coordinate experiments with students of all abilities from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. In the afternoon, TCPCG candidates remain on campus for classes with UConn professors.
The cohort of 7 aspiring teachers enrolled in TCPCG at the Neag School are completing coursework to prepare for student-teaching in the fall at area schools, including two at Norwich Free Academy. The summer STEM program at NFA will serve as a teaching laboratory and a culminating experience where teacher trainees will gain firsthand experience with students.
“For the aspiring science teachers enrolled in our accelerated teacher certification program at the Neag School — many of whom are established professionals undertaking a career change — this opportunity to acquire direct experience working with youth is key,” says Settlage. “We’re grateful to NFA for affording our TCPCG students this valuable, real-world experience in the classroom.”