Skip Navigation

Mid-America Transportation Center

Professional Development Science and Math Summer Institute

  • June 8-10 (Part I)
  • June 20-23 (Part II)
Brief Description of the Summer Institute

Faculty from UNL in the College of Engineering and Technology through the Nebraska Transportation Center and the College of Education and Human Sciences through the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools have received funding from Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and the U.S. Department of Transportation to sponsor a professional development institute for 25 middle and high school math and science teachers to be held this summer.

Purpose of the Summer Institute

Kids with guns

The professional development summer institute is intended to enhance your skills as middle and/or high school math, science, and industrial technology teachers in the use and application of real life engineering resources available through the UNL Engineering Department. Specifically, faculty in the engineering department have video of applied examples that directly and explicitly demonstrate various principles of math and science. These videos could be translated by the UNL faculty into useful formats to enhance your teaching of math, science, and industrial technology concepts and principles. For example, NASCAR crashes demonstrate the effects of concepts such as speed, acceleration, and impact and the relationship among them. The institute is also designed to enhance your skills in understanding the applications of math and science principles to scientific questions raised through real life problems and translating those to your students through interactive web-based computer simulation modules. For example, one question engineers try to answer using math and science principles is how to design safety features for cars and guard rails to minimize the otherwise devastating effects of car crashes, whether on the race track or in one’s neighborhood.

UNL faculty have expertise in cutting-edge research and have the video files. However, they lack the expertise that middle and high school teachers posses in terms of content taught correlated with Nebraska state standards and district curriculum. They also lack the understanding of what excites middle and high school students relative to math and science and what would “fly” with or appeal to middle and high school students. This collaborative project between UNL faculty and middle and high school educators provides a great opportunity to increase academic achievement of middle and high school students in math and science, two content areas that are often viewed by students as dull and remote to real life.

Brief Description of the Institute

The Summer Institute involves two parts. Part I is Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 8-10, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM on the UNL campus in the Whittier Research Center; Part II is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 20-23, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Teacher participants are required to attend all seven days of Parts I and II.

Expectations and Benefits of Teacher Participation

Through the grant, (1) teachers will be provided a stipend of $1,200 (paid in three installments: end of summer portion, after lesson implementation in your classroom, and final project evaluation and revised lesson materials) to cover the costs associated with their time and effort and (2) costs of materials provided as part of the professional development experience will be covered.

There will be no registration fee and, throughout the year, teacher participants will be able to access support from project personnel for accessing and using the web-based materials within their classrooms and in implementing their lesson plans. Teacher participants will also have access to a lesson plan repository, developed through previous Summer Institutes.

Part of the professional development summer institute is designed to enhance your math and science process and technology skills. You will have the opportunity to (1) access samples of multi-media demonstrations and explore their use, (2) present requests for additional materials to be developed to support the curriculum for your district, and (3) educate the UNL faculty regarding district curriculum and the needs you have related to web-based teaching resources to supplement instruction of math and science principles in your classroom. You will be able to share what you learn at the institute with fellow teachers at your schools.

Structure of the Summer Institute

Safer Barrier

Part I (June 8-10, 2011) : Teachers will interact with several engineers at UNL through didactic and interactive sessions to learn about their research areas and what materials and other resources are available for teachers to use as they develop lesson plans for their students. Considerable time is devoted during these three days to allow teachers time to begin developing lesson plans (with the assistance of peer educators and curriculum specialists) and making requests to the engineers and their graduate students for additional video files or other materials. Tours of relevant sites such as the engineering labs and off-campus sites related to engineering and industry will also be scheduled. After Part I, and prior to returning to the UNL campus for Part II, teachers will (1) complete development of their lesson plans, and (2) select one objective from their lesson plan to present to students during Part II.

Part II (June 20-23, 2011) : Teachers will spend the first day and setting up their mini-lessons to conduct with middle and high school students who will participate in an Engineering Education Day experience on June 22 and 23.

Fall 2011:Teachers will implement their complete lesson plan with their students by December 1, 2011 As part of the evaluation, teachers will complete a student rating and have their students complete a feedback survey. Teachers will provide a review for one other teacher’s lesson plan, make revisions to their lesson plan based on feedback from the peer review, and post a complete, revised lesson plan including all materials on our project website.

Engineering Education Excellence Institute for Middle and High School Students

This collaborative project between UNL and Nebraska middle and high schools has proven to be successful for the past five summers, and we expect the Summer 2011 to be even better! This year, we have the opportunity to invite about 100 students to participate in an Engineering Education Day.
On Wednesday, June 22, and Thursday, June 23, middle and high school students will go to the UNL campus and enjoy a day of interacting with engineers, touring on and off-campus sites, and experiencing mini-lessons related to one aspect of engineering developed by the participating teachers. This year, students have the option of attending one or both days.

How Students Become Involved

We need your help. As teachers of middle and high school students, we are asking that you send the attached flyer to the parents of five to ten middle and/or high school students who you think would benefit most from the Engineering Education Excellence Institute. You can download the flyer here.

This grant is particularly trying to reach out to students who do not traditionally participate in engineering, such as females and minorities, however all students are welcome.

Parents will need to go to our project website to submit a brief application for their child at

Their submitted application will give us permission to contact the family and begin discussions about their participation and the registration process. There will be no registration fee for the students, and lunch will be provided. Transportation will NOT be provided for students to and from the event; however, transportation for field trips during the day’s events will be provided for students.

Submitting an Application for Teacher Participation

Participation for teachers and students is limited. Completing an application as soon as possible will increase the likelihood of participation. Applications are due June 3, 2011.

Teachers interested in participating are encouraged to complete an on-line application as soon as possible at

Applications will be accepted for full registration based on timeliness of submission and in order to insure a good representation of participants from our partner schools in terms of number, gender, subject (math, science, and industrial technology), and grade level (middle and high school).

For further information about this project, please contact
(1) Gina Kunz, PhD (Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at UNL) at (402) 472-4659, or
(2) Charise Alexander (College of Engineering at UNL) at (402) 472-6078

Support for this project is provided, in part, by the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and the U.S. Department of Transportation.