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Posted 6/11/2015

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By Mark Rankin
Nashville District Public Affairs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 9, 2015) – Local high school teachers are using externships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics class curriculum . It will reflect real world situations a student might encounter in as a science or engineering professional.

Five Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers spent a day in an externship that provided them hands-on experience and will help to develop project-based curriculum and facilitate applied learning. They interacted with water managers and learned how the Corps provides collaborative water resource engineering solutions, public infrastructure management, and environmental stewardship for the Cumberland-Tennessee River systems. 

The group toured the Old Hickory Lake Resource Manager’s office, Old Hickory Lock, Dam, Power plant and the Rockland Recreational area.

Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander, welcomed the teachers and emphasized to them that the Corps of Engineers is committed to empowering teachers in support of STEM programs and the importance of education of STEM subjects for future potential Corps employees.

The commander provided a detailed briefing about the operations and missions of the district and explained how the Nashville District serves the region and the nation by providing collaborative water resource engineering solutions, world class public infrastructure management, and environmental stewardship for the Cumberland-Tennessee River Systems. He also talked about Corps history, Corps leadership, organization, navigation, flood risk reduction, hydropower, recreation, emergency management, real estate and construction.

“We are very happy you are here,” said Hudson.  “STEM subjects are key to helping understand the importance, shape their young minds and on the front line to develop a curriculum, educate and prepare them for their future.”

The idea behind the partnership between the Corps and Stratford teachers is to collaborate on the development of project based learning curriculum for science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes.

Allison Walker, a natural resources specialist, and leader of the externship project for the Nashville District, said the Corps STEM team, worked diligently with Stratford STEM Magnet High School to coordinate and set up the externship.

“This was exciting to host the teachers and to help educate them about the Corps of Engineers so they can grow students,” Walker said.”  I was exciting to see them absorb the information, how it functions and allows them to talk to professionals that do it every day,” said Walker.

Jennifer Berry, academy coach; Jennifer Cherry, English teacher; Michelle Little, assistant principal; and Simka Carlton, math teacher, visited the Old Hickory Power plant, Lock and Dam and attended a lunch at the Old Hickory Resource Manager’s Office.

Jake Kennedy, senior electrician; Old Hickory Power plant, and Will Garner, hydropower engineer, then talked about the powerhouse’s many functions and management of the water. Charlie Bryan, lock master provided insight to lock functions; Bob Sneed, Water Management Section chief; Tommy Mason, Old Hickory Resource Manager; and Tadd Potter, biologist; then presented more detailed information about water releases at 10 dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries, water quality, park ranger’s area of responsibility, and water management operations.

“It is great to have the opportunity to see the teachers out here learning about what we do,  so they can take it back to the classrooms and educate students on real-world jobs,” said Bryan.

Bryan said the group was very attentive to all the information he presented.

“I really have enjoyed the tour and learning so much about the Army Corps of Engineers that I did not know, especially how the water is collected and managed,” Berry said.

Cherry said that the group is compiling all the information and they will collaborate on to develop project-based real world lessons for freshman students. The group has planned to study a section of Cooper Creek in Sequatchie/Hamilton County. 

“I think the tour is fantastic, it’s an excellent way for me to introduce my students to the different types of opportunities available to them,” said Cherry

Walker said it is very important that the Corps continues to recognize the need to prioritize STEM subjects and help prepare teachers and students.

“Engaging with teachers is an important part of this process for us to gain valuable employees and other community industries.”

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

career Engineering and Math John L. Hudson Lt. Col. John L. Hudson Mark Rankin mathematics Nashville District science STEM Stratford Stratford High School Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers technology U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE