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F-M teacher explores problem-based learning at STEM ED

A Fayetteville-Manlius School District educator who is exploring new and innovative ways to implement more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) practices into her classroom lessons recently participated in a national workshop that’s designed to inspire, cultivate, and enhance STEM engagement.

In July, Eagle Hill Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Melissa Asztalos attended the United States Department of Defense – Missile Defense Agency (MDA) STEM Education Development workshop, or STEM ED, which provides K-8 teachers and informal educators an opportunity to explore problem-based learning while engaging in hands-on STEM activities.

The F-M teacher was one of 21 educators selected from a pool of nationwide candidates to participate in the week-long program, which was held at MDA’s STEM Outreach Center in Richmond, VA. To be considered for STEM ED, applicants are required to undergo a rigorous application process.

“With the growing need for STEM graduates in the changing workforce, it is important to expose students to real-world applications of science and engineering practices,” Mrs. Asztalos said.

In addition to presentations and interactive sessions led by field experts, workshop participants had opportunities to embark on various educational excursions to observe STEM practices in real-world contexts. Mrs. Asztalos toured the Naval Station Norfolk, the USS Ramage, and the training facility located at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) – Dahlgren Division. She also met with Aegis Ballistic MDA Director Rear Admiral Druggan, who has supervised more than 17,000 engineers, scientists, technicians and support personnel across eight NSWC divisions.

Following the workshop, participating educators received for classroom use several innovative STEM lesson plans and MDA STEM activity kits. STEM ED professionals and university partners will continue to support workshop participants throughout the school year, according to the program’s website.

“I’m looking forward to implementing new lessons that focus on integrating STEM instruction into my classroom,” Mrs. Asztalos said.

This is an image of Melissa Asztalos standing in front of the USS Ramage.

Eagle Hill Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Melissa Asztalos stands in front of the USS Ramage in July during the 2018 United States Department of Defense – Missile Defense Agency (MDA) STEM Education Development workshop.