Avoiding the Virus with a Virtual Teacher Professional Development for a Hands-On Design-and-Making-Based STEM-Learning Project
Abstract: This paper describes how a project adapted Teacher Professional Development for online delivery as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. The MPACT project—a Department of Education funded project—addresses spatial reasoning, grade level mathematics and computational thinking for high-need rural students in grades 4-7 through design-and-making-based learning experiences. The MPACT curriculum units are designed to improve mathematics and CS learning while simultaneously improving students’ views of themselves as future workers in the growing STEM industry of digital fabrication. Well-prepared teachers are critical to the success of the MPACT project, especially because these topics are not in the traditional trajectory of elementary or middle school teachers. Our teachers learn how to support students using 3D CAD software and printing using 3D-printer—skills and concepts that many of the participating teachers didn’t learn as students or in their teacher preparation programs. The MPACT PD goals are to ensure teachers understand the curricular units, increase teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge of 3D geometry and CT, provide the technical skills teachers need, and develop teachers’ strategies for teaching with work-based projects.