U of A Engineering Center Wins Springdale Schools 'School Partner of the Year' Award

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The University of Arkansas Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems was awarded the "School Partner of the Year" award by Springdale Schools Education Foundation. 

The program was selected from about a dozen nominated partnerships. 

The center's Research Experience for Teachers program began in the summer of 2016. Shawn Bell and Mike Jackson participated in the 2016 program. Bell was a seventh grade science teacher at Randall G. Lynch Middle School at the time. He is now the science specialist for the U of A STEM Center for Mathematics and Science Education. Jackson is an Advanced Placement physics and chemistry teacher at Farmington High School.

These teachers experienced five short courses with various faculty of the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems who work in different research areas aimed at the center's research goals. From these short courses, Bell developed a lesson plan centered around thermal energy, heat transfer and how temperature related to kinetic energy. The center's staff then partnered with Hellstern Middle School to pilot the lesson plans in their sixth grade science classrooms in October 2016. 

The Hellstern Middle School teachers that participated in the program are Tammy Guthrie, math and science instructional facilitator; Kathy Prophet, Greg Herzig, and Cassie Kautzer, sixth grade science teachers.

The lesson plans and activities that resulted from the research are available to any teacher who wishes to use them through the Center for Math and Science Education as well as the other five STEM centers around the state. Because the lesson plans and activities meet current Next Generation Science Standards, they are useful to anyone in the country.

Chris Stecklein, executive director of the Springdale Schools Education Foundation, said the program provided new experiences for middle schoolers and graduate students alike. 

"We look for partnerships that engage large numbers of students, but more importantly, we want to recognize those partnerships that give kids an opportunity to have experiences they would otherwise never have. ... That is what makes this partnership so awesome," said Stecklein. "What the kids at Hellstern get to experience as a part of this undertaking is unique and incredible. I also was very impressed with what the grad students at the university are getting out of this partnership. It is always great when we can recognize a true partnership, where both parties are contributing to the partnership and both parties are getting a true benefit from the partnership. This relationship hits that mark perfectly."

The program concluded with a campus tour for 462 sixth grade Hellstern Middle School students and their teachers in the spring of 2017.  The students toured the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, the High Density Electronics Center, the UA campus and lunched at Baum Stadium. At NCREPT, the students participated in demonstrations of electrical energy. At HiDEC, they had an introduction to the clean room, a demonstration of heat transfer through a diamond plate to cut ice and a hands-on introduction to a 3-D printer. 

To see the videos produced by the Springdale School system, follow the links below:

The 2017-18 Research Experience for Teachers program is already underway to build on the program created in 2016. 

About the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems Center: The center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. At this center, engineering faculty from the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Howard University and Stanford University collaborate with members of industry to identify and carry out research projects to improve the power density of next generation electro-thermal systems that are the most relevant to industry needs.

The center's ambitious and innovative research goal is to increase the power density of current mobile electrified systems by 10-100 times over current state-of-the-art systems.  Results from this study could save highway vehicles between 100-300 million liters of fuel per year.

For more information on the center's education programs, contact Shannon Davis at sgdavis@uark.edu. For more information on the center, contact Alan Mantooth, deputy director, at mantooth@uark.edu.


Karin Alvarado, marketing and communication specialist
College of Engineering - Cato Springs Research Center
479-575-4958, karina@uark.edu

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu


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