This week, teachers in north Idaho are learning a variety of new skills in math, science and technology to share with their students in the fall.
The state school superintendent’s office has brought back its STEM summer institutes after a year away because of Covid.
In the pre-Covid era, north Idaho teachers would gather for a week at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene or Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston and do hands-on training, says Kaitlin Maguire, the interim executive director for the Idaho STEM Action Center.
This year, for Covid reasons, Maguire’s agency has had to move its training online.
“We’ve been really amazed and impressed and happy with our instructors this year, where they have taken that hands-on component that they’re normally doing in-person and translating it to our virtual component," she said.
The STEM Action Center devised about 30 workshops, from computer coding to wildlife conservation. It’s not the same as meeting in person, but Maguire says participants received everything they need in the mail to teach the subject matter they’re learning about.
"For example, if they’re taking a 3-D printing workshop with us, they would actually receive a 3-D printer and they can bring that back to their classrooms and immediately start teaching their students how to use the 3-D printer," she said.
Maguire says the summer workshop gives teachers a chance to network with their peers around the state and share teaching strategies. She says that’s especially important for teachers who feel isolated in their rural communities.