Area Teachers Invited to Workshop on Making Science Fun in the Classroom

OXFORD, Miss. – Teaching seventh- through 12th-grade students to identify alloys, alter polymers and test composite strengths can require more than a lecture, so master teachers often find ways to combine science and fun in their classrooms.

Up to 25 middle and high school science and math teachers will have an opportunity to participate in a free workshop this summer at the University of Mississippi. The weeklong ASM Teachers Materials Camp, set for July 23-27, will help working educators develop project-based methods for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, known as STEM, using common materials such as assorted of metals, ceramics, glass and polymers.

Funded by the ASM Materials Education Foundation, the camp is hosted by the UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education, or CMSE. Experienced STEM teachers will run the workshop, which focuses on material science education and its application with project-based curriculums.

“Bringing together young and master teachers helps us move ahead and not lose everything when a teacher retires or leaves the profession,” said John O’Haver, CMSE director. “As teachers form strong learning communities, the lessons learned are conserved for the future.”

Leading the workshop will be former aerospace engineer and ASM materials adviser Louis Hess, Pittsburgh-based science teacher Robert Wesolowski and Hamilton, Ohio-based science teacher Rebecca Heckman. These educators travel around the nation each year to engage middle and high school teachers in STEM professional development.

“We tend to spend the mornings teaching and then spend the afternoon in a lab environment,” said Hess, who has led workshops for four years. “We do simple experiments that explain materials science. The teachers know their students, so we let the teachers decide which experiments will work best in their classrooms.”

A popular teaching procedure is the “Iron Wire,” an experiment during which wire is attached to two transformers and then heated to show the two cubic forms of the metal – body-centered cubic and face-centered cubic – at different temperatures, Hess said.

“As the wire gets hotter and it glows, it expands and starts sagging,” he said. “When the crystal structure changes, it shrinks. It’s pretty interesting to see. It shows materials can have different crystal structures.”

Partly funded by the Office of Naval Research through ASM, the UM workshop will also teach experiments focusing on corrosion.

Each participating teacher will receive take-home materials to re-create experiments in their home classrooms and earn four continuing education credits, said Susan Peterson, CMSE outreach coordinator and organizer for the camp. Participants will also receive a $100 travel grant, meals and housing in UM residence halls. Spots in the workshop are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to host this camp,” Peterson said. “This is a great opportunity to teach STEM education.”

Applicants must apply online at