An Authentic STEM Partnership

Apr 10, 2019 by

ST. LOUIS, MO, April 10, 2019 – Last year, teachers and fire service professionals from Cobb County Georgia came together for a first-of-its kind professional development workshop aimed at bridging the gap for students between classroom learning and real-world science and engineering challenges. Dr. Sally Creel, STEM and Innovation Supervisor at Cobb County Schools, will discuss this unique partnership in her district on Friday, April 12 at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in St. Louis (9:30-10:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch).

The group of eight teachers and more than 20 fire service professionals worked their way through the UL XplorlabsFire Forensics: Claims and Evidence module. This professional development day took teachers up close and personal into the science of fire and the role of fire investigation. The fire service professionals helped validate the understanding of fire, fire dynamics and fire behavior as the module covers how to read a fire scene and build a claim for the fire’s location of origin and cause. The purpose of this unique workshop was to bring teachers and fire service professionals together in classrooms to engage Cobb County students in an interactive lesson, expose them to the real-world careers of fire service professionals and empower them to be the next generation of problem solvers.

“Gone are the days of memorizing boring facts,” said Creel. “Now Cobb students are on the case – was it arson or accident? When learning is relevant and contextualized in a real-world setting, students are more engaged. The opportunity to learn alongside real Cobb firefighters and fire investigators is an experience our teachers and students will remember for a lifetime.”

Creel, along with her co-panelists Megan O’Keeffe, an 8th grade physical science teacher and STEM teacher leader in Cobb County, and Randy Crider, Fire Chief at Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services, will highlight this exciting initiative which brought fire service professionals and teachers together for professional development, hands-on, in-classroom experiences and student exposure to careers in safety science. Additionally, Creel and O’Keefe will discuss how teachers can integrate this free online resource into their classrooms.

“When I implemented the program in my classroom the engagement was immediate,” said O’Keeffe. “During the three to five-day study of fire forensics teachers weave digital content from the module with their own standards-based materials, hands-on investigation of phenomena included in UL’s teacher materials and visits from the Cobb County Fire personnel. This model for using the Xplorlabs Fire Forensics module is permeating throughout our district and has grown from two to five proof-of-concept schools to teachers busting down our door to get the resources because they can see the authenticity of such a great STEM resource.”

About UL Xplorlabs

UL Xplorlabs is an educational platform designed to encourage students to “solve through science.” It is especially focused on engaging middle-school students during a time in their educational lives when interest in science is shown to decrease dramatically. UL Xplorlabs offers a free STEM-focused experience with interactive videos, instructional experiences, hands-on classroom activities and creative classroom challenges.

For more information on UL Xplorlabs, please visit:

Media Contact

Allison+Partners for UL Xplorlabs

Hank Sforzini, 615.972.9462

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