July 21, 2014

SEMI High Tech U Teacher Edition expands to include middle, elementary school teachers

Author: Leslie Duncan Fottrell
Source: NYSUT Communications
semi tech high
Caption: Photos by El-Wise Noisette.
Hosted annually by NYSUT, the SEMI High Tech U Teacher Edition gives educators two intensive days of hands-on learning in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and the tools they need to take the modules back to their own classrooms.

Ever wonder how calculators complete complex calculations instantaneously? Educators from around the state experienced first-hand how microprocessors work as they participated in the logic gates and human calculator module, using binary code and multiple switches during the SEMI High Tech U Teachers Edition July 10 -11 at NYSUT headquarters.

Hosted annually by NYSUT, the SEMI High Tech U Teacher Edition gives educators two intensive days of hands-on learning in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and the tools they need to take the modules back to their own classrooms.

Other sponsors of the SEMI High Tech U programs include Tech Valley industry partners and higher education institutions that are invested in preparing students for future careers as nanotechnology and other tech industries expand in the Capital District and across the state

This year the program was expanded to include middle- and elementary school teachers.

"Tech Valley is right in our backyard," said Janine Gatus, a fourth- and fifth-grade science teacher and member of the Averill Park Teachers Association, who shared how excited her students are about technology. "I came here so that I would be more knowledgeable about it."

semi tech high 

Participants received a primer on the zeros and ones of binary code, how three types of logic gates operate, and how microprocessors use these elements to work. Then each held a card with "0" on one side and "1" on the other and, working in their stocking feet and using a large floor map reminiscent of the game "Twister," the educators simulated the series of simple, instantaneous decisions microprocessors make.

SEMI High Tech U's industry-driven model brings tech industry leaders in to facilitate modules on micro chips, solar chips, electronics, nanotechnology and team building. The ability to work well collaboratively in a team environment is critical for success in the today's workforce.

Charlotte Valley Teachers Association member Scott Hudack was enthusiastic about the hands-on aspects of the modules. During the electronics module, Hudack, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade science looked up from the circuit board he was working on. "I think this activity might spark — no pun intended — an interest in my students," he said.

The desire to better understand the evolving tech industry to prepare students for careers that haven't even been invented yet was a goal shared by many participants.

"How can we prepare them for what its ahead if we don't even know ourselves?" Ichabod Crane Teachers Association member Kathleen Bolstad, who teaches fifth grade, asked rhetorically,

"SEMI High Tech U Teacher Edition aligns so well with what NYSUT members need and want in professional development," said NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino. "Meaningful, current information they can take back to their classrooms and implement immediately. The emphasis on collaboration and team work is so important in the 21st century workforce."

Kierstin Lambert, an Averil Park TA member, led the curriculum integration component for each module. Educators also toured the Hudson Valley Community College TEC-SMART and GLOBAL FOUNDRIES chip fab facilities in Malta.