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By Sholnn Freeman
Office of University Communication
July 23, 2012      
Teacher Camp at Howard Inspires Curiosity in STEM

ASM International Materials Camp teachers observe and practice experiments with Howard laboratory technicians. Credit: 1st Lt Ashleigh Peck, Air Force District of Washington

WASHINGTON – A group of teachers hovered over a lab table in Howard’s chemistry building and waved a chemical called borax over a lit torch, in search of a sweet spot in the flame to help complete the chemical process that would form glass beads almost from scratch.

The teachers – many from schools in the Washington region – worked to perfect a number of high school-level experiments during the American Society for Metals (ASM) Materials Camp, held on Howard’s campus from July 9-13. The one-week camp was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, which is seeking to boost interest among young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Howard University’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences hosted the camp and its 28 teacher participants. The teacher camp at Howard was one of 36 similar camps held this summer across the country.

“We want to interest [students] in science, technology, engineering and mathematics so they will take advantage of opportunities to make money and be involved in America’s future in technology,” said Daryl Umstead, a high school teacher in Clinton, Md., who participated in the workshop.

Pamela Gilbert-Smith, an ASM camp master teacher from Georgia, said many students shun engineering. She said camp was a way to give teachers new classroom activities that might inspire students. According to the Air Force, 15-year-olds in the U.S. rank 30th in mathematics and 23 in science worldwide. The Air Force spends $40 million each year to draw students to STEM.

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