LSU College of Engineering Offers Two-Step Program Connecting High School Teachers With Engineering Fundamentals

The LSU College of Engineering, in recognition of the current shortage of resources for students and teachers in the STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, currently hosts two summer programs geared toward supplementing those fields. The Marathon High School Teacher Engineering Awareness Program, or HSTEAP, is a one-week institute focusing on engineering fundamentals, and the subsequent Research Experience for Teachers, or LaRET, a National Science Foundation-funded six-week program exposes high school teachers to research in the field of engineering.


HSTEAP, funded by Marathon Oil Corporation, is a one-week institute focusing on educating high school Math-Science teacher pairs the fundamental concepts of engineering, along with hands-on activities underscoring the connection between science, math and engineering. The intent of the program is for the teachers to implement the knowledge gained from the institute in their math and science courses as their schools. These projects focused on the "Grand Challenges of Engineering," as dubbed by the National Academy of Engineering, which range from making alternative energy sources more economically viable to developing ways to make cyberspace more secure.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the program. Each day was filled with activities that will help math/science teachers introduce students to the field of engineering," said Kathy Moise, Bethany Christian Academy mathematics teacher. "I am excited about implementing the design activities with students at our school."

This year's HSTEAP program placed particular impetus on one grand challenge: "Restore and Improve the Urban Infrastructure," which has particular importance to Louisiana due to the impact of hurricanes on the state's population. 30 teachers designed and built a small community with innovative ideas for restoration, improvement and sustainability, while keeping natural disaster preparedness at the forefront of the planning process.

"The implementation of project based learning was taught through facilitative instruction where fewer rules and more critical thinking were required," said Athanasios Chalastaras, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy Science Teacher. He concluded that, "These learning lessons are very valuable tools that I utilize."

The one-week program was implemented using trained facilitators who guided the teachers through numerous hands-on activities. Additionally, lectures led by LSU College of Engineering professors discussed the importance of engineering in everyday life, as well as more discipline- and research-focused talks.

Teachers from the following schools participated in HSTEAP: Episcopal High School, Baton Rouge; Delcambre High School, New Iberia; L. W. Higgins High School, Marrero; South Beauregard High School, Lake Charles; Denham Springs Freshman High School, Denham Springs; East Jefferson High School, Metairie; Northside High School, Lafayette; East Ascension High School, Gonzales; Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Metairie; East St. John High School, LaPlace; and Bethany Christian School, Baker.


Recently completing its second year, the LaRET program brings five math/science high school teacher pairs onto LSU's campus for a six-week research intensive experience. Participating teacher pairs are selected through a statewide application process, with the goal that these instructors would bring their experiences back to the classroom, developing joint educational activities that join science and math through engineering. The first week of the program is HSTEAP; after that, teachers learn how to design a research experiment answering a set of hypotheses, then collect and analyze data and how to communicate their results. At the end of the program, the pairs develop poster presentations illustrating their results, and work on an academic implementation plan for execution through the following year. Finally, they are provided supplies for their classrooms and a small stipend allowing them to present their results at the Louisiana State Math and Science Teacher Association conference.

"The program has helped me understand the connections of science, technology and engineering to math lessons at a high school level," said Maria Theresa Yabut, a mathematics teacher at Bastrop High School. "This is an awesome project for high school teachers like me who want to help in making their students see the connection among those four disciplines and encourage more students to pursue engineering."

Teachers from the following schools participated in LaRET: Bastrop High School, CE Byrd High School, Breaux Bridge High School and Opelousas High School.

Without the encouragement of teachers and opportunities to investigate math and science principles in fun, inquiry-based learning activities that lead to engineering education, students have limited information on which to base their future career path. The result is that students may not have taken the necessary preparatory classes to major in engineering in college. To learn more about the Grand Challenges of Engineering, visit


For more information about these programs and other ways that LSU's College of Engineering promotes STEM education, contact Mimi LaValle at225-578-5706 or



Article by Mimi LaValle, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5706, and Ashley Berthelot, LSU Media Relations 225-578-3870


More news and information can be found on LSU Engineering's website at