By Erik Wright, National Museum of the American Sailor Education Specialist
Within the education world, standards are constantly changing, material and curriculums are always being updated, and we’re learning more and more about our physical and natural world on an almost daily basis. But with the increasingly busy schedules of teachers, rapidly growing class sizes, and ever shrinking budgets, how and when are educators supposed to find the time and resources to stay relevant and up-to-date on educational standards and training? This is a question the Department of the Navy (DoN), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the education department of the National Museum of the American Sailor grapple with in an effort to ensure that our nations educators have the necessary tools and training to produce the highest caliber students possible (students who might become future sailors and leaders).
One solution lies in a large, non-descript building overlooking Dorsey Creek at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Aptly named Rickover Hall, this is where the U.S. Navy’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) center is located and their STEM team actively provides these necessary tools and training for educators from around the nation to stay current on teaching standards and techniques. While they offer several training seminars on location throughout the calendar year, their largest contribution to the advancement of life-long learning is the training that they export to military bases and community campuses all across the United States. Naval Station Great Lakes recently hosted the Academy’s STEM team to provide training to local educators from Illinois School District 187, as well as STEM-based commands on base.
For many of the civilian educators who attended this day-long training seminar, this was
their first experience with the U.S. Navy. They were excited and eager to begin the training, which began on military time: 0800 sharp. For this seminar, there were nearly 50 educators from both the civilian and military worlds and it was a full day of intense training that covered topics such as electrochemistry, aeronautical engineering, electrical circuits and sensors, and complex machine design. Yet, the main focus of the seminar wasn’t aimed at teaching the scientific concepts so much as it was aimed at the pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Seminars such as these are invaluable to educators who seek up-to-date teaching techniques that not only simplify the instruction, but also show them how to present the material in a way that makes the subject easier to understand and also gets school aged children excited about the concepts and applications behind STEM education. This type of training is just one tool that the Navy employs in its community outreach efforts…efforts that seek to strengthen our communities and create opportunities for educators to better prepare our children for the increasingly technical and scientific world in which we live.
Check the NMAS website from time to time to learn more about how the National Museum of the American Sailor is bringing STEM education to our local community. For more information about the STEM Team at the U.S. Naval Academy, please visit: https://www.usna.edu/STEM/