For one St. Mary’s teacher, summer meant learning and looking ahead to the new school year. In July, science teacher Michael Kloenne participated in the United States Air Force Academy Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) three-day boot camp.
During the camp 90 teachers from across the U.S. learn to become regional leaders in STEM studies. The camp has been held for the last four years, and this was Kloenne’s second year to attend. He said that for him the biggest take aways are keeping on top of what is happening in the STEM world, meeting others with this area of expertise, and the ideas that are generated from the discussions at camp. Each year he comes away with new ideas to use in the classroom.
“One of my main objectives for the coming school year is to schedule a sophomore field trip to see the USAFA research centers,” Kloenne said. “Currently there are 20 research centers in various STEM areas. I want St. Mary’s students to be inspired by USAFA’s world class research facilities.”
This year’s camp track for high school teachers included sessions on grant writing, the chemistry of smell and using the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer, a lab during which the class built an underwater remote controlled submersible out of PVC tube, a forensics lab complete with a crime scene and experts to help analyze the evidence, space weather, and a visit inside the Stellarium, which is a galactic classroom.
“Above and beyond the curriculum were the field experts brought in to share their real world experiences with the students,” Kloenne said. “The event is also a fantastic opportunity to network with other teachers from other school districts that teach STEM subjects.”
A field trip to USAFA is just one of the many ideas swirling in Kloenne’s mind since the camp. After last year’s camp, he conducted a GPS activity in the classroom and had three USAFA cadets speak to his classes about nascent cyclogyro and other emerging technologies. He plans to repeat both activities again this year.
Additionally, Kloenne hopes to do a rocket launch activity and plans to use St. Mary’s proximity to the Air Force Academy to tap into the Cadet Wing STEM Outreach Club, which provided more than 1,700 hours of community service last year. He said the club is available to support regional STEM events and classrooms.
“I also plan to link what I’ve learned with other subjects,” Kloenne said. “For instance, I learned the National Space Foundation has an annual international art competition for K-12 and the winning art is displayed in the International Space Station. How cool would it be to have your art displayed in the ISS?”
In addition to new ideas and networking, camp participants can get graduate level credits for attending and earn great door prizes like GPS units and rocket kits. With all that the camp provides—for a small registration fee that is reimbursed at the end—the boot camp is becoming very popular.
“I would highly recommend this boot camp for any STEM teacher,” Kloenne said.
The camp is sponsored by the USAFA Center for K-12 STEM Outreach and Research and the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education. And it is funded by the National Defense Education Program under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary's High School