WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory was invited by the Smithsonian Science Education Center to share cutting-edge research with the Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers 2018 summer cohort at the National Museum of Natural History, July 11.
NRL's Matthew Yates, who holds a doctorate in Environmental Engineering, gave an educational lecture to 17 hand-selected teachers on how to create and demonstrate microbial fuel cells to their students.
"My goal was to give teachers a fundamental understanding of the topic, while letting them steer dialogue for them to effectively bring what they learned back into their classrooms," Yates said. "I was very happy with the opportunity to participate in this event."
Microbial fuel cells work by using natural microbial metabolism to transform wastes into useful energy, just one of the different fuel cell technologies NRL is researching.
Yates' lecture was part of a number of STEM topics delivered by other subject matter experts during the week-long, behind-the-scenes course at Smithsonian museums and research facilities.
"The Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers is a diverse program helping educators across the country gain new experiences and elevated content knowledge to improve their classroom instruction and investigations," said Katherine Fancher, Program Specialist at the Smithsonian Science Education Center. "Yates resonated with teachers and we hope to have support again next summer."
NRL's overall involvement in the program supports and promotes the Department of Navy's STEM Education and Workforce Initiative goals as an opportunity to enhance our nation's STEM curriculum by educating teachers throughout the country.
During his lecture, teachers engaged with their own knowledge of the field, identifying information that would spark student interest and framing questions to Yates in a way they assumed students would perceive the topic.
"I was impressed with this group's ability to digest the content of my lecture and stimulate meaningful conversation, given their unfamiliarity with the topic," Yates said.
The Smithsonian Science Education Teacher Academy partnered with the STEMAZing Project of Pima County Schools in Arizona.
"All week we challenged teachers with hands-on activities and stretched their knowledge of STEM fields," said DaNel Hogan, Director of The STEMAZing Project in Pima County, Arizona. "Using researchers like Yates to equip teachers with more effective tools for STEM engagement and education will ultimately help our future scientists and engineers."
After Yates' lecture, Hogan presented teachers with kits to help demonstrate how microorganisms can be used as a fuel cell.
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