Teaching Camp for NERDS:

Networking for Engagement and Re-Design in STEM teaching


In our 2.5-day Teaching Camp for NERDS, STEM faculty build an innovation to implement in their classrooms the following academic year. NERDS camp is an intensive experiential and culturally sustaining learning workshop in which faculty will experience Applied Improvisation, Storytelling for Communication in Science, and opportunities to share personal pedagogical expertise (e.g. share-a-thon). We anticipate a weekend experience beginning Friday evening, continuing all day Saturday, and concluding on Sunday morning. At the end of the Camp, participants will commit and submit plans to implement lesson innovations in a STEM course in AY 2024. The innovation format is flexible, but must reflect the aspects of inclusion and connectivity highlighted in NERDS workshops. 

Motivation and Prior Implementation

As a part of the NSF-Ideas Lab, these applied improvisation and storytelling approaches were implemented in AY 2020-2021 in a variety of courses (Mathematical Modeling, Psychology, Biology). Our proposed NERDS camp is a continuation of this work by encouraging more faculty to include these types of ideas in their course or assessment design.

Mathematical Modeling Implementation. In the mathematical modeling course, students were tasked with creating a story (with accompanying problem & solution) for their midterm that incorporated their choice of Markov chains, decision theory, or probability. 

Student slide from Markov Chain model (video) story of intergalactic turmoil between werewolves and dragons.

Psychology Implementation. Each week, at the beginning of synchronous Zoom class, students played a different applied improvisation game (e.g. "Best Match" and "Define This"). The games built comradery, prompted creativity, and injected some fun.

Intro Biology Implementation. In the introductory biology course, students (1) wrote real-life infection scenario (real or fictional) that someone might deal with related to infection and (2) gave good, bad, or really bad advice as comments to others’ slides.

Student slide from Intro Biology course on energy use (good, bad, and really bad advice).

Student Feedback

Mathematical Modeling

Psychology Implementation. 

Intro Biology Implementation.