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Summer Scholars Helps Develop Science Teaching


The University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Summer Scholars STEM Institute held throughout the month of June helped pre-service teachers in UNG’s College of Education gain experience in preparing lesson plans in science and engineering while focusing on English language learners. A nearly $300,000 National Science Foundation grant, which runs through 2024, helped fund the academy for 60 students rising into fourth grade through eighth grade at local area schools.

“Our pre-service teachers were able to become more comfortable planning and implementing these types of lessons and working with bilingual students,” Max Vazquez Dominguez, associate professor of science education, said. “This program is trying to give experience in those areas.”

Summer Scholars STEM Institute provided UNG pre-service teachers an intense 10-day science methods course during which they planned and create four lesson plans (two science, two engineering) using culturally and linguistically relevant practices for engaging bilingual students. They then used those lessons to guide their teaching in June.

In some educational systems, science is not a priority. The priorities are math and language arts. Science and engineering are the perfect areas to integrate math and language arts.

Max Vazquez Dominguez
Associate Professor of Science Education

Summer Scholars concluded with “Expo Day,” where students presented their projects to family, friends and UNG faculty and staff. They included summaries of their research with illustrations followed by a question-and-answer session.

Vazquez Dominguez credited the success of the program to his colleagues in UNG’s College of Education including  Sheri HardeeDr. Lauren Johnson, Romola Bernard, and Winnie Namatovu, and South Hall Middle School’s Arcelia Dalton for the success of the program. 

The institute is a win-win for pre-service teacher and student participants.

Veronica Suarez, from Oakwood, Georgia, decided to teach at the Summer Scholars STEM Institute because she believed it would give her the opportunity to help students and gain more knowledge of working in a classroom.

“Having this opportunity to work hands-on in a classroom has really taught me a lot, and now I understand what to expect in a classroom of my own,” Suarez said. “Joining this program has taught me about being able to use different teaching methods and creating lesson plans. Getting feedback from our mentors has been helpful, and it’s an opportunity for which I’ll be grateful forever.”

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