Teaching Enhancement Partnership Project
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Graduate Fellows studying Mechanical Engineering are placed in middle school science and math classrooms to integrate their content knowledge into the curriculum, the end product being engaging labs and activities and after-school clubs. In doing so, Fellows go back to the basics of their discipline, strengthening their own core knowledge to the benefit of their coursework and research. Additionally, Fellows are able to incorporate some aspect of their research, which gives them a forum in which to explain what they do to people outside of the field, thereby strengthening their communication skills and comfort in front of a classroom, and shows middle school youth that higher education can be very dynamic. An illustrative activity that we have supported for 3 years in two of our partner middle schools is the First Lego League (FLL), a middle school robotics competition. In an after-school Robotics Club, Fellows coach a team of students and a sponsoring teacher. Basic engineering concepts, research, computer programming, problem solving, and team work are the hallmarks of FLL, and Fellows guide participating students through each of these areas.