About 20 Middle Tennessee teachers stand around a long table, concentrating on the flames in front of them. One after another they hold a bobby pin, then a paperclip over the heat, and dunk it in water.
These teachers are participating in a crash course on materials science taught by an instructor with the American Society for Metals (ASM), hosted at the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance in Spring Hill. ASM is an organization of professional engineers who believe in helping teachers and students get excited about science, math and engineering so they can learn about the world around them and enter into those career opportunities in the future.
The Spring Hill class is a weeklong intensive focused on teaching the teachers new lessons and hands on experiments to take back to their own classrooms and students.
“It is advanced and the learning curve is a little steep for me, but I’m learning a lot and I am getting practical ideas that I can bring back to students,” says Patsy Buckner, a 6th grade science and social studies teacher in Nashville.
Buckner, like most teachers here, doesn’t teach science in a lab setting, which is why getting the students out of traditional textbook explanations, is key.
“They come in, ‘Ugh, it’s science day. Are we going get out workbooks?’” That’s the way Buckner describes some of her students’ reactions to standard science curriculum. “They don’t understand we’re going to have that excitement and fun with science.”