Oct 7 2012
08:32 pm

Effective next weekend, it will have been three weekends straight that our older kidster has chosen to stay on campus to attend an optional teacher training program (rather than come visit Mom and Dad), but just today I'm understanding why.

This very exciting training--which is being made available to pre-service and certified teachers, alike--is part of a project funded by NASA's Summer of Innovation (SoI) program, for which UT-Chattanooga's College of Education is one of many grantees nationwide.

SoI's function, their site says, is to "improve the skills and enhance the engagement of American students in STEM" by "strengthening the capacity of community- and school-based organizations that inspire and engage middle school students."

But it was the generosity of the training she attended yesterday that blew me away: At this week's event, which focused on robotics, each attendee received a LEGO Mindstorms Education NXT "base set" and software pack, valued at $519 (follow that link), and an "extension kit" enabling students to use the "base set" to build motorized vehicles. Wow.

So I had to ask: Are UT-Knoxville and/or Knox County Schools on this gravy train???

(And from the parents of this prospective teacher, thanks NASA!)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I see that I neglected to mention that student attendees are also being paid a $50 stipend to attend each Saturday training event (and they're being fed).

However, the kidster says that only 15 or so students, all prospective teachers, are attending each weekend?

What's up with that???

Tamara Shepherd's picture

TVA an implementer, too

An interesting story in today's Chattanooga Times-Free Press explains that--in addition to NASA's grant of Lego Mindstorms materials/training to Hamilton County teachers and pre-teachers--TVA is also active in implementing that robotics program in the county's public elementary and middle schools:

Here at Battle Academy for Teaching and Learning, the gamesmanship began a decade ago with about a dozen students. Now the program has grown to include about 500 young people at more than 20 other Hamilton County schools.

It's a locally grown STEM program that came about before the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum was cool.

And it's been funded to the tune of $1.5 million over the past decade by TVA workers -- not ratepayers.

Personally, I'm more trusting of schools' "business" partnerships with quasi-government concerns like NASA and TVA than I am of their relationships with for-profit businesses, whose motives may come into question.

Let's see more relationships of this sort?

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