Education News

Teachers ‘go bananas’ over real-world teaching

How can a room full of bananas help teachers get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)?

Secretary Duncan and other national leaders say that U.S. students need to complete a rigorous math and science coursework so they’re ready to compete in the global economy. Wisconsin educator Tom Steward was stirred by that call to action but recognized some inherent challenges.

“Students did not see the connection between what was being taught and how they could ever use it,” said Steward, who frequently observes STEM classes as the director of curriculum and instruction for Sparta Area School District.

To help make these connections, 60 teachers from Sparta and eight other rural school districts in western Wisconsin got bunches of inspiration from bananas. As part of a two-week summer academy for STEM teachers, on July 25 Steward led a visit to Kwik Trip’s distribution center in La Crosse, Wisc. to learn strategies to make their lessons come alive. Steward is a founder of the program, which works with regional businesses as well as the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Western Technical College and the U.S. Army at nearby Fort McCoy to help STEM teachers make lessons relevant.

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