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M.A.T. candidates selected for Georgia Southern University NSF-ENERGY advanced research experience

Pictured (l-r): Rocio Alba-Flores, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering; Molly Hopper,  MAT candidate; Lindsey Snowden, MAT candidate; and Valentin Soloiu; Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering.

Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) candidates Molly Hopper and Lindsay Snowden from Georgia Southern University’s College of Education have been selected to participate in a seven-week advanced research experience for teachers at the University sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

This experience will involve conducting solar water heater research under the direction of Valentin Soloiu, Ph.D. along with faculty member David Calamas, Ph.D. Georgia Southern faculty involved in the project state that having secondary teachers research with them in the labs allows these teachers to better prepare the next generation of engineering students and make students more aware of the real world applications of engineering and technology.  

Hopper and Snowden are two of 10 Georgia teachers selected for this summer experience.

“I am honored and excited to be selected to participate in the ENERGY program,” said Hopper. “I have always had a passion for environmental sustainability, and I feel like this program will show me real world applications for the importance of sustainability.”

Snowden also expressed her excitement in being a part of the program.

“It was an incredible feeling to be selected,” she said. “I am most looking forward to being able to apply what I learned to my classroom. I want my classes to be fun for students by trying to stay away from lectures and allow students to learn by doing.”

Both Hopper and Snowden conveyed the value this program can bring to their instruction in the classroom.

“This research will focus on renewable energy in the fields of wind, biofuels, and solar power in advanced engineering labs around the Georgia Southern campus,” said Snowden. “This program will help assist me in becoming a stronger teacher because I will be able to take this experience into the classroom and pass it to my students in a hands-on learning approach.”

“Hands-on learning is extremely important for students,” said Hopper. “After completing this program I know I will have various experiences and information to share with my students, and even encourage them to explore sustainable solutions to problems they may see in their lifetime.”

Hopper and Snowden are completing the M.A.T. Secondary Education program in the area of biology. They both also hold undergraduate degrees in biology from the University.

ENERGY program founders Soloiu, professor of mechanical engineering and Allen E. Paulson Distinguished Chair of Renewable Energy (PI), and Rocio Alba-Flores, associate professor of electrical engineering (co-PI), were awarded a three-year grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project entitled “ENgaging Educators in Renewable enerGY (ENERGY).” The NSF grant is part of the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program.

The grant includes that the goals of the RET program are to “help build long-term collaborative partnerships between K-12 STEM teachers, community college faculty, and the NSF university research community by involving the teachers and community college faculty in advanced engineering and computer science research and helping them translate their research experiences and new knowledge into classroom activities.”

The Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology is dedicated to increasing the level of STEM education throughout Georgia with projects like ENERGY. The grant program will be offered for the next three years.

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