Tennessee Technological University developed and implemented an innovative, online STEM in Motion teacher training during the summer of 2020. The workshop engaged high school mathematics and science teachers in transportation related activities and subsequently encouraged them to incorporate transportation topics into their classroom lessons. The workshop included 11 unique modules created by experts in education and civil engineering. The workshop modules included topics such as Current Topics in Transportation (Dr. Steven Click, TTU), Careers in Transportation (Dr. Jennifer Meadows, TTU), Does Reducing Speed Limits Impact Injuries (Dr. Kelly Moore, TTU), Blind Spot Geometry (Carey Wilson, TTU), Headlight Geometry (Dr. Kelly Moore, TTU), and Transportation Education Resources (Dr. Jennifer Meadows, TTU).
Each module included materials both in a virtual format as well as activities which required physical, hands-on learning. All modules required some form of response from participants including data collected from experiments as well as reflections about their classroom practice. Participants worked individually as well as cooperatively via the online platform. The workshop required approximately 20 hours of time to complete.
After completing the workshop modules, the 19 participants created their own transportation-related activities which were shared during an online meeting with both the participants and the workshop facilitators. The created activities are housed in both the workshop Google Site https://sites.google.com/view/stride-stem-in-motion-ttu-2020/home as well as the Oakley STEM Center website https://www.tntech.edu/education/stem/educators-schools.php. By housing the activity plans on the STEM Center’s website, they are available to any educator to use in their own classrooms, thus having a greater reach than just the number of participants completing the workshop.
A comparison of the completed pre- and post-surveys showed that participants gained both knowledge about transportation topics as well as the teaching of transportation topics in STEM education settings. Teachers were very enthusiastic about the workshop format and many said that the flexible online format made it easier or possible for them to participate. The quality of the workshop also stood out for teachers.
One teacher commented, “I have been training all summer for online teaching and STEM and found this training the most fulfilling of the summer.” Another teacher said, “This workshop was one of the better professional development trainings I have attended. The lessons presented were either directly related to my standards or required students to think critically and problem solve, something I also work on in my room. I appreciate that the modules were designed in a way that the lessons are ready to use without me having to modify.”
These results were encouraging in that future workshops, both virtual and face-to-face, can benefit from the materials created in this online setting.