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UNI workshops educate teachers in STEM fields

January 25, 2011

Maureen Clayton, associate professor, UNI biology, 319-273-7147,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa-- The University of Northern Iowa strives to lead the state and nation in pre K-12 education. One aspect of that goal is the further development of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. Each year, UNI partners with the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) to offer professional development workshops in STEM fields. The workshops are offered through ATEEC's Fellows Institute.

Maureen Clayton, associate professor of biology at UNI, has been leading the program since 2007. Each summer, high school and two-year-college science, math and technology teachers nationwide are invited to participate in workshops centered around a STEM issue. "One of the biggest benefits of ATEEC Fellows is that it allows educators to produce materials that are not only used in their classrooms, but others as well," said Clayton. "We've had educators from more than 30 different countries download materials from our website."

The theme for the 2010 Fellows Institute was flood control. Sixteen educators from across the country explored Iowa flood damage around Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Oakville. "Given the area's recent flooding history, it was a perfect location to host this year's workshop," said Clayton. "There has always been a lot of expertise in the state related to flooding."

During the workshop, participants studied how communities prepare for and respond to flood emergencies. Additionally, natural and engineered flood control measures were examined. Clayton said that although we can't prevent floods from happening, we can reduce the impact they have on the population and environment. Strategic placement of structures away from levies and out of flood plains and planting crops that actively take up water throughout the season are two simple ways to achieve this.

Previous Fellows Institute topics have included wind power, sustainable alternatives for fueling transportation, invasive species and climate change. The ATEEC Fellows Institute is offered under a grant by the National Science Foundation and is developed through a partnership between UNI, the Eastern Iowa Community College District and the Partnership for Environmental Technology Education.

For more information or to download free educational materials, visit