Leadership from Naval Submarine Base New London and the Submarine Force Library and Museum hosted U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney and Elizabeth Esty in a visit to the museum’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Teacher Fellowship program on July 26.
The Submarine Force Library and Museum partnered with the Naval Historical Foundation in establishing this inaugural “submarine immersion” experience from July 22 through August 2.
Courtney and Esty joined the Naval Submarine Base New London commanding officer, Capt. Carl Lahti, and Historic Ship Nautilus and Submarine Force Library and Museum officer in charge, Lt. Cmdr. Ben Amdur, in meeting with program coordinators and the four Southeastern Connecticut teachers selected as fellows.
“This program represents electricity,” said Congressman Courtney. “It will spark teachers to connect students to the material and enhance their knowledge of STEM-related subjects by practical and engaging lesson plans.”
For Lahti, the professionals as well as the field are becoming even more technical, and thus STEM education is becoming even more important.
“Every job these days is technical, even blue-collar occupations. For example, the base’s crane operators have to be able to think in three dimensions, even though a college education is not required. In the same way, the base needs technically qualified sailors to work on submarines,” said Lahti. “Connecticut needs local children to envision themselves working in the technical industry to help fulfill the need, and the STEM fellowship is a way to enrich the curriculum and connect students to the area.”
Teacher Fellow Stacy Haines, a mathematics teacher at New London High School, agrees. The STEM fellowship represents a new way to pique students’ interest in local STEM industries, like the Navy.
“If they immersed me in this program when I was in high school, I would have joined the Navy,” said Haines. “I found this entire week to be amazing. Everything we’ve done here has been so exciting.”
Other local teachers participating in the program include: Ted Allen, an eighth grade science teacher at Ledyard Middle School; Larry Chapman, a technology education teacher at Old Saybrook High School; and Greg Felber, a mathematics teacher at Ledyard Middle School also certified in history and social studies.
The local teachers not only toured Historic Ship Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine which is a central exhibit at the museum, but also USS Annapolis (SSN 760), an attack submarine homeported at the base.
It’s all been a complete success, according to NHC education coordinator, retired Navy Capt. John Paulson. “We’ve given the teachers an in-depth understanding of the technology and the progression of technology aboard submarines,” said Paulson. “Their brains are full of Navy information, and now they’re working hard to correlate that into lesson plans for their students.”
“We need to have experiential learning in our students’ curriculum,” said Congressman Esty. “Our science museums and military installations are great opportunities for children to learn because they can talk to professionals in the field, which is much more persuasive.”
Completed work of STEM Teacher Fellows from 2011 and 2012 can be found at: www.usnavymuseum.org/Education.asp.
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