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Institution holds LEGO camp for elementary students

The Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education will continue its community outreach efforts with a science workshop for children Saturday, director of the institute, Molly Weinburgh, said.

Workshop facilitator Susan Harris said Saturday’s workshop, entitled “Exploring Physical Science with Hands-on Experiments,” will be the first of four planned for this fall and is geared towards helping university students gain experience in teaching.

The Andrews Institute also hosted activities for elementary students and teachers in the summer, Weinburgh said. Activities included a Lego robotics camp, a teacher quality seminar and an academic language summer school for elementary students new to the United States.

Jenesta Marshall, a science education graduate student, said the workshops and seminars are held for the purpose of both community outreach and research.

“Along with really trying to do some things with science and math education, we also want to outreach and interact with the community and things like that,”

Marshall said. She video recorded many of the activities and took thousands of photos. She said this data was helpful to the institute because it could be studied and stored for future analysis.

Sherry Oliver, a technology instructor at the Starpoint School on campus, helped students learn math and science skills during the robotics camp. Students built and programmed robots to move through obstacle courses that involved climbing ramps, moving objects and maneuvering around barriers.

“If you can start to figure out the math and the science that goes with these things and the different-sized wheels and the different-sized power settings, you start integrating all of your academic skills in with it,” Oliver said. “So it’s sort of a way to totally bring everything together and have them be successful.”

Starpoint School students and students from the Fort Worth community participated in the robotics camp, Oliver said. The Starpoint School is a laboratory school on campus under the College of Education that helps students with learning difficulties and trains future teachers with hands-on experience.

In addition to the Lego robotics camp, Weinburgh said the Andrews Institute taught 83 Fort Worth ISD students math and science and the technical language that accompanies the subjects in June. The class taught fourth and fifth graders who had spent fewer than two years in the US.

“The minute you start talking any academics, then you realize that they don’t have the language that will allow them to do well on any kind of test that school systems now give,” Weinburgh said. “So our aim is to really work with them with the academic language. And we help them understand both the concept we’re teaching in the science, and the academic language and how important that language is.”

Teachers also joined students in getting instruction this summer through a teacher quality seminar in July. The seminar focused on the topic of environmental systems and worked to improve the teachers’ instruction, Weinburgh said. Participants received iPads, laptops and flip cameras to use in their classrooms.

“What we’re hoping that we’ll see during the academic year, when we visit these teachers in the classroom, is that they will be engaging their students in learning science through new media,” Weinburgh said.

The teachers who participated in the quality seminar are planned to return to campus one day a month, to share their progress and discuss new ideas.

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