Mrs. Laura Florek, and Wendy McCarthy, teachers at James B. Eads School, have been selected as members of the first cohort of International STEM Fellows. This program, created cooperatively by the Chinese Education Connection and the Indiana Department of Education, will send a select group of ten teachers to China in October to observe math and science instruction in Chinese public elementary schools. When asked about her reaction to being chosen, Mrs. Florek wrote, “I am extremely grateful and humbled to have been chosen as a member of the first cohort of International STEM fellows. This is an invaluable opportunity to travel to the People’s Republic of China. I am beyond excited to learn more about STEM education from experienced STEM educators and curriculum experts.”
About STEM instruction Florek stated, “Students love hands on learning activities at the elementary level. Little do they know they are learning to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and express themselves creatively as they engage in fun, hands on STEM lessons. As a teacher, STEM gives me the tools I need to spark their curiosity and shape the minds of my students at an early age.”
McCarthy added, “My colleague Laura and I wrote our proposal as a team. We are extremely fortunate to have two teachers from our district selected. Upon returning from China, we will design multiple STEM lessons that will be shared within our district as well as at professional development conferences throughout the state. We appreciate the support that we have received from our superintendent, Dr. Jeff Hendrix, and our principal Mrs. Linda Bevil.
In addition to their school observations, STEM Fellows will also visit Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. Hangzhou is the capital of Indiana’s sister state, Zhejiang Province. The teachers will visit schools in several locations in Zhejiang and will also be presenting information about public education in Indiana at a conference for administrators.
The program is sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, and the Hoosier Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. The Chinese Education Connection, an Indianapolis educational professional development and travel company, is coordinating logistics for the program.
STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and has been an emphasis in recent educational reform initiatives. Eads Elementary, in collaboration with Purdue University Calumet, will focus on STEM standards during the first semester of school. Purdue teaching candidates will be working on their Science and Math methods classes at Eads this fall with an emphasis on the STEM standards. Our collaboration with Purdue will afford our students the opportunity to be creative, work collaboratively, develop critical thinking skills, and build on their communication skills. Different aspects of science, math, literacy, engineering, and technology will be incorporated into the STEM lessons.