Thursday, August 11, 2011
OU alumnus brings spark of science to high needs classroomBy Katie Land, news editor
Recent Oakland University alumnus Patrick Hoover has kick-started his teaching career, with a little help from a university scholarship program and a philanthropic organization dedicated to promoting science and technology in the classroom.
|Through the Noyce scholarship program, OU alumnus Patrick Hoover has been able to student teach in a high needs district and participate in hands on STEM projects and programs.
In the spring of 2008, Hoover graduated from Oakland having completed a major in physics and double minor in chemistry and English.
Since then, he has worked feverishly to complete the coursework for a teaching certificate in just 12 months, through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship for Professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The scholarship covers tuition costs and offers additional opportunities, including funding, for professional development after completing OU’s coursework. The innovative program will host three cohorts of students. Hoover belongs to the first set.
Funded through the National Science Foundation, the Noyce scholarship program aims to train science and math teachers who plan to teach in high needs school districts. Currently, Hoover works as a student teacher at Oak Park High School, for his mentor teacher, Bill Grimm.
It was there that he found a slew of new opportunities and chances to network, through programs presented by the Square One Education Network. The organization works to create a dynamic learning environment and spark the interest of students through innovative and hands-on programming and competitions, such as building underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and designing and constructing autonomous Innovative Vehicle Design cars.
The experience has been transformative.
“Working with Square One has enhanced my educational experience in numerous ways,” Hoover said. “Through Square One’s support of Bill and his students, I have been able to be a part of bringing authentic STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) projects into the lives of students.”
“As a chaperone for the robotics club, I have been able to interact with kids outside of the typical school environment. It has given me a chance to get to know the students better. I was also able to learn a lot myself,” he added.
As a student teacher with Grimm, Hoover became involved in the school’s robotics club and travelled to Square One’s underwater ROV competition at Spring Lake, as well as the Innovative Vehicle Design Challenge Day at the Michigan International Speedway, and the Convergence Conference at Cobo hall. As Grimm began to expand the underwater ROV program to the middle school, Hoover was able to assist the fledgling program.
The organization also hosts a number of teacher workshops including Cell Phone Science, something Hoover was glad to participate in. At one, an underwater ROV workshop, Hoover was challenged to build one as part of a three person team.
“Though I knew quite a bit about ROV’s since I’d been working with Bill, it was a very good experience to actually build one for myself, just as the students have to do,” he said. “I think it is much easier for a teacher to teach something if he understands how the subject is viewed from a student’s perspective.”
Through Square One connections, Hoover was able to meet with professional engineers, network with other science teachers, and bring that spark of learning and building to the classroom. He hopes to find his own teaching position soon, one at a school with a strong community of science teachers.
“By being involved with Square One, I have been able to become a part of the local physics education community,” Hoover said. “I also took an independent teacher workshop this summer, and I saw several other teachers that I already knew from Square One sponsored events. I feel fortunate to have made these types of connections so early on in my career.”
Up next for the team is the Synergy Summit, a conference geared to open a dialogue between educators, students, entrepreneurs and industry leaders about the future of STEM programs and leaders. Set for Wednesday, Aug. 17 in Ypsilanti, Grimm will serve as a guest speaker, along with an astronaut, an economist, executives and other educational leaders.
For more information about the Noyce scholarship, view the website. To learn more about the Square One Education Network, its programs, events and mission, including the upcoming Synergy Summit, view the website.