University City

Workshop designed to teach teachers

High school math teachers from about two dozen Charlotte-area schools will report to Phillip O. Berry High Academy of Technology Tuesday to learn advanced math skills they can pass on to students.

This is the fifth year that Project Mindset will bring teachers together in Charlotte. The workshop is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Through this event and others, a team that includes officials from UNC Charlotte develops and tests lessons it hopes will help more of America's students compete in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM.

As many as 100 teachers are expected to attend the event, designed to provide students with skills they can use in business, public service and their own lives.

"It promotes for students the idea that they can do the mathematics that's required in technical fields," said David Pugalee, a leading presenter at the workshop and director of UNC Charlotte's Center for STEM Education.

Mindset is a collaboration between educators, engineers and mathematicians at N.C. State University, Wayne State University and UNC Charlotte.

With the help of high school teachers, the team is working to create, implement and evaluate a new curriculum and textbook that would be offered to students who have completed Algebra II.

Teachers learn to use spreadsheets to efficiently analyze large pools of data.

To make the information relevant in the classroom, the workshops focus on tasks students are likely to face, such as choosing a college, buying a used car or selecting a cell phone plan.

Some of the topics will focus on professional tasks, such as dispatching 911 calls or planning for crime scene investigations.

"A lot of the traditional curriculums provide very few connections to real-world problems," Pugalee said. "A lot of times it seems it's totally separate from where they (students) are in their mathematical understanding."