Plainfield, Ill.—Last week, 12 area teachers visited Vulcan Materials Company’s Bolingbrook Quarry to receive some hands-on training in the areas of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) as part of a three-hour graduate course taken for professional development.
An annual collaboration between Vulcan and the Three Rivers Education Partnership (TREP) now in its third year, Vulcan is one of five day-long business partnerships that aim to demonstrate real-world applications that sixth to twelfth grade math and science teachers can share with their students in order to generate interest in STEM careers, like those offered at local businesses like Vulcan.
“A new study published in the journal Science Education shows that in order to get students interested in STEM subjects, lessons need to be local, relevant and personal,” said Laura Price, a program manager at TREP. “Outings like this apply to all three of those elements, and result in a much more engaging, enriching classroom experience that is proven to pique an interest in these vital disciplines.”
As part of a week-long graduate class attended by 12 area teachers, the day at the Bolingbrook Quarry included an overview presentation as well as the opportunity to tour the underground quarry, and see for themselves, the various STEM applications at work.
“Vulcan Materials provided the context for what I’m teaching,” said Thomas Connelly from Joliet Township High School, one of the teachers in attendance. “They’ve provided the real-world background to make it relevant to my students.”
STEM subjects have received considerable emphasis lately, especially on the national level, with President Obama in 2011 calling for 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next 10 years.
“The demand for STEM jobs is constantly growing,” said Jon Carmack, plant manager of Bolingbrook Quarry. “Our goal is to instill the value of the knowledge we use in our daily operations.”
Area Vulcan facilities have provided the aggregate building materials for some of the major construction projects throughout Chicagoland including the I-355 expansion, the I-55 lane expansion, the Chicagoland Speedway, New Silver Cross Hospital, Cherry Hill Business Park, and the Butterfield Road lane widening.
“Our job is to provide high-quality construction materials,” said Carmack. “But equally important is helping build our community’s foundation, and that’s precisely what we set out to do with projects and partnerships with organizations like TREP.”