Enthusiasm is contagious, as they say. That’s one of the underlying theories behind CalTeach, a California program that aims to inspire K-12 students by harnessing older students’ enthusiasm for STEM subjects.
At the same time, CalTeach enables those older students — college STEM majors — to become credentialed teachers during their undergrad experience. “We are producing mathematicians, scientists and engineers who have chosen to teach,” says engineering professor and Berkeley CalTeach do-director George Johnson.
Among the benefits of the program is the fact that it offers an opportunity for STEM majors to give teaching a try and determine whether or not it’s for them. Furthermore, “Learning the subject and learning to teach it at the same time really means unpacking the subject,” says Shelly Seethaler, staff director of CalTeach at UC San Diego. “You can’t just plug in formulas for gas, temperature and pressure and come up with answers. You also need to be able to explain, gas, temperature and pressure, and what’s going on and why.”