Teaching the Teachers

CSUF’s MESA Veterans to Teach Teachers at Statewide Conference

August 6, 2007

By Russ Hudson

When Vonna Hammerschmitt, director of Cal State Fullerton’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, is addressing folks, it's usually young people in a classroom, lab or on campus during MESA Day activities. For Russ Hill, a teacher at Villa Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana and a MESA adviser, he’s usually in a classroom full of middle school students.

But come Aug. 3-5, the duo will be teaching teachers — as participants at the statewide MESA Academy for Science and Math Education in San Ramon.

Hammerschmitt will lead a panel discussion of veteran MESA advisers sharing advice and helpful tips during “Learn From the Experts,” while Hill will conduct a workshop on “Magnetic Strip Teaching,” a procedure in which explanatory information is posted on a whiteboard through the use of magnetic strips while an instructor gives a lecture.

“During my 20 years in MESA, I have presented something at nearly every MASME event,” Hammerschmitt said. “My topics included science-fair tips and tricks, activities for MESA participants, helping new advisers get started, and several others.”

In spite of her experience and seniority, Hammerschmitt said, “I also benefit from the conferences. There are workshops on how to present new MESA hands-on activities, workshops on new and cutting-edge materials and programs for math and science. Also, representatives from Texas Instruments have given  very good workshops.”

The annual MASME conferences are organized to train educators in schools that take part in MESA, as well as to discuss best practices for all MESA advisers and directors. Begun in the 1970s as a partnership between an intermediate school and the engineering department at UC Berkeley, MESA is not a national effort offering programs for elementary, intermediate and high schools, as well as community colleges. It is intended to promote mathematics, engineering and the sciences, especially to the educationally disadvantaged.

The CSU Fullerton MESA program has served area students in grades six through 12 for more than 20 years. At last count, more than 1,400 students in six area high schools and eight intermediate schools take part each year.

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