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For STEM Teachers, School’s In Session This Summer At San Diego State

High School teachers Christine Hill, Teresa Dunlap, Carol Bonn and another Pr...

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: High School teachers Christine Hill, Teresa Dunlap, Carol Bonn and another Project Lead the Way participant work to get their rover-style robot's arm to lift, June 30, 2016. San Diego State University offers Project Lead the Way engineering training each summer to teachers.

San Diego State's College of Engineering is helping teachers from throughout the country strengthen their science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — lessons.

High school teachers from as far away as Florida are at San Diego State University this week getting hands-on experience with robots and circuit boards. The campus' College of Engineering offers hundreds of teachers each summer lessons they can take back to their classrooms in the fall with its Project Lead the Way training.

Photo by Megan Burks

Point Loma High School engineering teacher Kathy Shulze works with a circuit board as she learns how to build electronics at San Diego State University, June 30, 2016.

Point Loma High School teacher Kathy Shulze was on day nine of the two-week session on Thursday. Her desk was a tangle of yellow wires. Shulze plugged them into a circuit board and manipulated code on her laptop computer, trying to get a small red bulb to turn on and off with a button. It turned on but wouldn't shut off.

"So I need to figure out what's going on with that," she said. "It's either my code or my wiring."

Shulze said the trial and error is what makes the program so valuable.

"By going through it yourself, you actually see all of the mistakes that the students are going to make and it helps you to figure out ways to help them," she said. "So this is a really important component, as opposed to just going through curriculum in a book, because it teaches you how to teach."

Shulze scrutinized her code and moved a couple of wires around. She pushed the button in and out. The light clicked on and off.

She said she'll use what she's learned to help her high school engineering students next year build a machine that sorts pills and could be used in the healthcare industry.

"It shows them real-life projects that they can relate to," Shulze said of engineering courses. "I think when students see relevance, then they tend to absorb better and they can see how the math is used. They can see how the science and physics is used. It shows how all of their education is going to be important."

About 360 elementary, middle and high school teachers will go through the program this summer. Their school districts pay for the training.

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