Teachers in training

Boat float experiment

Teaching assistant Emily Alexander (white shirt) adds weight to a Styrofoam boat designed by elementary education students Heather Sweers (right) and Kuria Reever (with glasses) Tuesday as professor and recorder Larry Genalo looks on. In this hands-on project, one of many in this fall's "Toying with Technology" course for 30 future teachers, students learned about mass, weight, volume and water displacement, as well as a simple experiment that teaches these concepts to grade schoolers.

Armed with a limited list of available supplies, a spending limit ($2.50) and knowledge, the students were challenged to build a boat and predict how much weight it would support before it sank. They were assessed on how accurate their predictions were.

"All of their experiments are meant to be something they'll do with, for example, third-graders," Genalo said. "And they're learning to set up experiments that a teacher or a school could afford to provide."

Later this semester, Genalo's students will spend a month of their class meeting time in classrooms at United Community School, west of Ames, leading hands-on experiments in technology and science with students there.

In addition to this undergraduate class, the Toying with Technology program includes a graduate summer class for teachers and a large, year-round outreach program for K-12 students and teachers. Photo by Bob Elbert.