(From L-R) Misty Rigdon, a seventh- grade teacher at Bacon County Middle School in Alma; Elayne Whitten, program coordinator for the Chattahoochee-Flint Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center (GYSTC) and Julie Scott, a teacher from Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, take part in a STEM exercise during the GYSTC Academy held at Fort Valley State University’s Otis O’Neal Veterinary Technology Building Sept. 22.
According to the National Math and Science Initiative, 35 percent of eighth-grade students met proficiency levels in mathematics in the year 2013.
To assist local middle school teachers in helping students become proficient in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, Fort Valley State University hosted the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center (GYSTC) STEM Teacher Academy on Sept. 22. The STEM academy drew more than 10 teachers and regional GYSTC coordinators to FVSU’s Otis O’Neal Veterinary Science Building.
Cindy Greene, regional coordinator for the GYSTC Center in Cochran helped organize the workshop. Greene said FVSU was selected because of its centralized location, experience in conducting STEM related programs and the resources available in the veterinary sciences program.
Zebia Payne, communications coordinator for the GYSTC, explained why the training focused on middle school teachers. “We try to catch the students when they’re trying to pick a career. That’s usually the sixth, seventh and eighth- grade level,” Payne said.
Throughout the day, teachers received training on aquatic ecosystems and organisms. Ann Gillespie, FVSU’s lead veterinary technician, explained that in building aquatic ecosystems, all four STEM principles are used. “You have to learn about science, and you have to learn about technology because you’re creating an ecosystem and you have to support that life,” Gillespie said. She also added that engineer technologies are used and employ a lot of math in solving solutions.
In addition to lectures and STEM related exercises, workshop participants also toured the veterinary sciences building and the State Animal Facility for Emergencies (SAFE) Center located on campus.
The GYSTC has 13 regional sites across Georgia, with a main office on the campus of Kennesaw State University in north Georgia. Founded in 1989, its purpose is to generate interest in STEM subjects for teachers, students and parents in elementary and middle schools in underserved areas throughout the state. FVSU was chosen as one of several locations to host the academy. This is the third training in 2014.