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State Educators Receive Technology Training Through UW

July 17, 2018
Man looks at computer monitors in a lab
Kindergarten teacher Drew Peregoy reviews arduino commands during the 2018 ESP4T program at UW.

As Associate Professor Bob Kubichek progressed through his presentation on the first floor of the Engineering Building, eight individuals in the classroom followed along on their computers as he covered the basics of an arduino, a credit-card sized processor.

In an interesting twist, the students in this particular classroom were educators themselves. In what’s become an annual summer program at the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), 80 teachers from Wyoming and the region participated in training in the Engineering Summer Program for Teachers, or ESP4T.

The weeklong professional development course takes educators through an information-filled program wherein they learn about arduinos and Raspberry Pi, another small programmable computer. ESP4T is comprised of a group of professors, graduate and undergraduate students from UW’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department, Science and Mathematics Teaching Center and College of Education. In addition to introducing technology and engineering subjects, the program goal is to provide an ongoing resource for teachers who use the technologies in their classroom. CEAS professionals involved in the program include Kubichek, Professor Suresh Muknahallipatna, Assistant Academic Professional Lecturer Jeff Anderson and Project Coordinator Senior Teddi Freedman. Associate Professor of Secondary Education Andrea Burrows from the College of Education and Science & Math Teaching Center Senior Lecturer Sylvia Parker also are involved.

Drew Peregoy, a kindergarten teacher in Shoshoni, Wyo., has taught for more than 10 years in the classroom. He heard from about ESP4T from a colleague who had attended, and Peregoy wanted to expand his repertoire using advanced teaching tools like arduinos and Raspberry Pi.

“Obviously, it will help me teach it more effectively if I have a greater understanding of the concepts,” he says.

After a few days in the course, Peregoy already had some ideas to implement the technology into his lesson plans in Shoshoni, including a flash card challenge and utilizing the school’s weather station for activities.

“I’m very impressed with the university,” Peregoy says. “The students who assisted us and the instructors have been great and have offered to help us even after we leave if we have questions. I’m thankful for the opportunity. This is a crash course, but it’s very effective. You could always use more time, but it’s a great jumping off point. The college has done a nice job of starting off with the ideas and simplifying the concepts.”

Matt Bassett is a life science teacher for seventh grade at Laramie Middle School, and encourages all his students to be skilled in engineering and computer science concepts.

“I may not be able to build a supercomputer, but now I know how they work at their core,” he says.

The program allowed Bassett the opportunity to learn about programming and coding, areas he wants to incorporate in future lesson plans.

“I want to prep my students for the future and their career,” he adds. “They could be a plumber, a doctor or a lawyer. Whatever it is they end up choosing, they’ll be better served if they know these kinds of skills.

“If you know engineering concepts and computers, you’ll always have job opportunities, because those skills translate to any career.”

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