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UW-Led Technology Program Helps Kaycee Teacher Explore New Possibilities

August 16, 2016
woman looking at a computer screen
Kaycee Middle School teacher Victoria Davis works on a program during the recent RAMPED (robotics, applied mathematics, physics and engineering design) program at the University of Wyoming. (UW Photo)

Kaycee teacher Victoria Davis can’t wait to pass on to her students what she learned during an intense summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at the University of Wyoming.

Davis was among 30 teachers -- mainly from various Wyoming school districts -- on the UW campus for a 10-day schedule that included various STEM-related workshops.

In its first year, RAMPED (robotics, applied mathematics, physics and engineering design) is planned as a three-year, federally funded Wyoming Department of Education Math and Science Partnership grant program, says Andrea Burrows, UW College of Education secondary education science assistant professor, who led the program.

The program was originally developed when Natrona County School District (NCSD) leaders and teachers created a strategic plan to boost graduation rates. They worked with UW instructors in developing the RAMPED program.

Burrows says the focus of the program is to support teachers on student achievement in STEM fields. RAMPED is a professional development program in which at least 25 teachers each year experience a 10-day, on-campus summer institute and six days of intensive follow-up training in Casper.

“RAMPED provides teachers professional development to enable six active-learning projects revolving around robotics, applied mathematics, physics and engineering design,” Burrows says.

Teacher participants worked directly with physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, computer scientists and computer engineers in advanced laboratories, using cutting-edge computer facilities on the UW campus.

Davis says the program will help her middle school science and math students succeed, and even those younger who are in her elementary STEM program.

“I loved the RAMPED program. It provided exposure to multiple tools with plausible application to a variety of age levels,” Davis says. “I even came home and did basic arduino and circuitry with my 4-year-olds.”

At UW, first-week workshops include the use of raspberry pi, or a computer on a card that is similar to an Intel processor; arduino, a computer that has inputs and outputs; and working with Baxter, a robot. The second-week workshops of RAMPED focus on space (and using data from the Sloan Digital Space Survey), virtual reality and a NetLogo, and a workshop titled “Naturally Inspired.”

Those workshops helped Davis expand the way she will teach her students, especially those in STEM fields.

“I am hoping to have my science students utilize raspberry pi and arduinos to gather and record data on weather and possibly soil samples,” Davis says. “We will be utilizing NetLogo to do some modeling of populations where students can model more of the variables. I also am hoping to use similar strategies and perhaps explore basic circuitry with my elementary STEM students.”

The six follow-up sessions, to be held in Casper later in the academic year, feature the same content with ideas for teachers to use as classroom extensions and elaborations, Burrows says.

Even though the program targeted the NCSD needs, Burrows says RAMPED’s ideals also can be used in other school districts.

“RAMPED provides the same mathematics, physics and engineering content, and instruction so that any teacher can ask and answer questions -- using research and inquiry -- and then incorporate this same technique and content into their classroom structure,” she adds.

Davis says the program is beneficial to all school personnel.

“I would absolutely recommend this program to educators, especially secondary educators in the math, science, and career and technical education fields,” she says.

Burrows led the RAMPED program along with UW’s Bob Kubichek, electrical and computer engineering associate professor, and session leader for arduinos; Adam Myers, physics and astronomy associate professor, and session leader for space; Suresh Muknahallipatna, electrical and computer engineering professor, and raspberry pi session leader; and Mance Hurley, NCSD Academy coach in the Pathways Innovation Center.

Other RAMPED personnel were Mike Borowczak, session leader for a “Naturally Inspired” workshop, Erebus Labs; Amy Banic, UW assistant professor of computer science, and session leader for a virtual reality workshop; UW graduate student Debbie Kretzschmar, session leader for the Baxter the robot workshop; and Tonia Dousay, UW assistant professor of professional studies.

The teachers’ work, including created lesson plans and posters, as well as session materials, is available at

For more information about RAMPED, contact Burrows at (307) 766-6735 or

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