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Teachers go into Camp to Better Help Students Understand Materials Science

Twenty-seven teachers became students for a week in June during Materials Camp for Teachers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their goal was to learn how to help their pupils to better understand materials science, or inspire them to pursue a career in materials science, technology or engineering.

The five-day camp was co-sponsored by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) Foundation, in conjunction with the ASM Materials Education Foundation, the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST) Foundation, and the ASM Pittsburgh Chapter.

The TMS Foundation has also co-sponsored materials mini-camps for students with ASM during the annual Materials Science & Technology (MS&T) Conference, which will be held this year in Pittsburgh Oct. 25-29.

Mike Miller, a teacher at West Mifflin Area High School, just outside Pittsburgh, said the curriculum offered by the camp was excellent. Certified to teach both chemistry and biology, Miller said the material would be especially helpful to vocational students who spend only half days at school, but need science classes to meet graduation requirements.

"It's more of an approach to engage the students with some simple lab activities. I'm looking forward to introducing this curriculum to them," he said.

Robert Shull, 2007 TMS president, said inspiring young minds is the key to growing the materials science field. TMS' support reflects this commitment to that mission.

"We, as a profession, need to do much more outreach to educate pre-college students about Materials Science. An even more effective way is to educate the teachers so that they will educate all of their students for the rest of their time teaching. The Materials Camp for teachers at Carnegie Mellon University was a perfect example of such a program," he said.

Charles Hayes, executive director of the ASM Materials Education Foundation, lauded TMS' support of both the student and teacher versions of the Materials Camp.

"TMS has been partnering with ASM Foundation in the student-focused mini Materials Camps held at MS&T conference during recent years. In 2009, TMS is a major financial co-sponsor of the first Materials Camp for high school teachers at CMU. This support is essential. We could not operate this program, and could not impact the 27 teachers without the support of TMS and its members. We look forward to growing partnerships and collaborations in K-12 education in the months and years ahead," he said.

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