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Teachers from China Learn about STEM Education at CREC Academy of Science and Innovation

CREC Academy of Science of Innovation hosted a group of 30 administrators and teachers from Qingdao #2 High School in the Shandong Province of China who were interested in learning about STEM education in United States schools. Principal Robert McCain welcomed them and gave a brief overview of the school’s philosophy, stating students are preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet.

“Our students are the generation who has never been without technology and they are preparing for a workforce that hasn’t been invented,” he said.

McCain was also very clear about the goal of the visit, “We need to learn from each other to stay competitive in the global market. I have lots of questions for you and would like to know more about how education works in China.”

The group of visitors included several administrators, as well as elementary and secondary music, art, math, science, history and physical education teachers. Their goal for the day was to learn about STEM education in a U.S. school: how STEM is integrated across the different disciplines and how teachers design their lessons and assess student understanding in these courses.

After introductions, the group learned about CREC’s “theme specific” magnet schools and about how the CREC Academy of Science and Innovation is organized into three distinct pathways: biotechnology, environmental engineering, and computer science and robotics. In their sophomore year students select one of the pathways to focus on for their coursework. Seniors complete a capstone project based on their chosen pathway.

Teachers spent time observing classrooms to see how STEM concepts are integrated into the general education classroom. Teachers observed a 10th grade genetics course, an 11th grade robotics course, a middle school robotics course, a 6th integrated science course, and a computer coding course, as well as several English and math courses.

The teachers from Qingdao asked questions through an interpreter and CREC teachers explained the work that students were doing. After classroom visits, the group participated in a presentation put on by STEM theme coaches Lauren Amaturo and Crystal Caouette, who explained inquiry based instruction and three-dimensional learning aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.

CREC was invited to host the group and Innovation was one of several stops during the week for the group. The group had visits scheduled at several other schools around the state, including CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering and CREC Discovery Academy, as well as several universities. They were led by Daniel Gregg, who is the Director of International Programs at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Gregg has been organizing these learning exchanges between the U.S. and China for more than 20 years. He said the group got a great deal of information from their experience. He commented that it was rare to see a group “this engaged” as they participated in several small group activities planned to help them better understand what a typical science lesson aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards would look like in an American classroom.

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