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News Briefs


The fall semester took flight Sept. 9 for 11 Virginia Wesleyan education students who participated in an “Outdoor STEM Laboratory” as part of the 2016 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show. The unprecedented experience, coordinated through a partnership with NAS Oceana and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, gave more than 6,500 Virginia Beach fifth graders full immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) displays and presented Virginia Wesleyan students and other community groups with the perfect opportunity for hands-on instruction. Led by Assistant Professor of Education Bill McConnell, VWC students in the courses "Curriculum and Instruction PreK-6" and "Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies" developed and implemented an inquiry-based curriculum that allowed the elementary-level students to investigate chemical reactions, circuitry, and robotics, and to participate in engineering design challenges. The valuable exercise comes at a time when contemporary education reform efforts are providing a steady increase in focus on STEM education at the elementary level, says McConnell: “It is extremely important that preservice elementary teachers understand research-based STEM education practices and become more confident in employing them. The Outdoor STEM Laboratory allowed our students to engage in authentic teaching practices to develop, implement, reflect on, and modify their curriculum and instruction several times throughout the day.” A former Chesapeake Public Schools elementary teacher, McConnell focuses his research on integrative STEM education in elementary contexts as well as the teaching and learning of environmental science. View photos from the event on the Virginia Wesleyan Flickr page: