By James Feichtner
A teacher at the Hamilton Southeastern School District recently experienced a teachers trip of a lifetime. Sandy Creek Elementary fourth grade teacher Holly Miller was chosen as one of ten teachers in Indiana to travel to Beijing, China to collaborate with schools on STEM education practices.
“I got an email from the Department of Education about a STEM fellowship and I applied for it thinking there’s no chance (for me),” Miller said. “They only took ten teachers. Over the Summer I found out I was selected to be one of the STEM fellows and so a group of us went over there in October and we were there for 12 days.”
STEM stands for Science Math Engineering and Mathematics. Using a translator, Miller and the other teachers spent time with Chinese students and school faculty observing and discussing various concepts utilized in their schools and then various ways to incorporate STEM practices.
“We observed science and math practices in the schools in China and then we also gave them recommendations about how to be more STEM integrated in their classroom,” Miller said.
Miller said the Chinese staff weren’t sure that STEM would work well with the students because typically science and math is taught separately in the school she visited, which is opposite of how STEM curriculum works.
“They teach math and science in isolation,” she said. “I told them to let me just try it. I had the kids construct a 3-D model of a home and then calculate the paintable surface area. They were super excited and super engaged and afterwards when they met with the teachers they loved the concept and they were inspired.”
Miller said the trip was such a success that the Chinese government has already made arrangements to bring more teachers over next year as part of the program.