Teachers, Business Leaders Huddle on Applications of Science

Science teachers from schools throughout southern Connecticut recently got a first-hand look at how the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are actually used in producing manufacturing materials.

About 25 teachers participated in the second annual Materials & Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute -- a three-day workshop co-sponsored by Southern, as well as the New Haven Manufacturers Association (NHMA), Platt Tech of Milford, the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale and Southern, and other education- and manufacturing-focused groups.

While the institute was based at Southern, it included tours of several area manufacturing firms.

"Teachers felt they left the workshop energized and equipped with a variety of ideas and tools to help them further engage their students on the topics of materials and manufacturing," said Christine C. Broadbridge, chairwoman of Southern's Physics Department and education director at CRISP, who is co-director of the summer teachers' institute.

Material ScienceBroadbridge was recently honored as the 2014 Connecticut Materials and Manufacturing Professional of the Year. The award was presented at a combined meeting of the NHMA and the Southern Connecticut chapter of the American Society for Materials International. She was recognized for her contributions to materials science, STEM education, her work with the NHMA Workforce Enhancement Committee and in playing an integral role in coordinating the summer institute.

Robert Klancko, a representative of the NHMA and co-director of the summer teachers' institute, said the workshop was intended to result in new lesson plans, advanced curriculum development, better-informed career advice for students and a more informed perspective on the manufacturing process.

"This is a novel partnership that has created an opportunity for teachers to learn how products are made," he said.

The program included presentations on materials science, plant tours, hands-on projects, working groups, networking opportunities, student presentations at Platt Tech, and a luncheon with keynote speaker James Gildea, plant manager for Bigelow Tea in Fairfield.