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Posted 5/7/2014

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By Dana Finney, ERDC PAO

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) recently helped teach two training modules to a group of local math and science teachers who participated in workshops under the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. The workshops “teach the teachers” how to use different tools in their classrooms to encourage students’ interest through hands-on experiences. Action officer John Mudrick organized the event.

Thirteen teachers took part in the workshops, where they chose either the Sports Materials Material World Module kit or Forensics and Discovery Mathematics 2, a National Defense Education Program Module kit.  Each STEM session includes discussion time followed by a laboratory design challenge.

In the Sports Materials workshop, participants test the rebound ability of different balls used in sports by dropping them from standard heights; assess the ability of a ball to rebound from different surfaces; and determine the rolling friction between one ball and a variety of surfaces. They also trace the development of sports equipment and analyze design and material options.  During the design project, participants design, construct and test a set of prototype mini-golf balls to meet specific design criteria.

In Forensics and Discovery Math 2, participants extract DNA from samples and make mathematical assessments; use melting ice cube data to graph linear functions; study parabolic motion; determine the rate of change; gain a better understanding of the definitions of probability; and enjoy additional activities with a focus on body temperatures, food and other contaminants, integers and more.  During the final project, participants solve a crime scene contamination investigation using the knowledge and skills acquired during module activities.

“Most of this year’s teachers had attended previous workshops at CERL for different training modules,” Mudrick said.  “Their feedback has been very positive.”