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High school teachers workshop

JULY 14-18


sorona 2014 image gallery link

UNM-Los Alamos offered the 2014 SORONA Teacher Workshops in Applied Technologies developed for high school teachers. SORONA, standing for Solar, Robotics, and Nanotechnology, is a week-long immersion in hands-on learning about careers in these three rapidly growing STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) disciplines.

Professional development activities with technical content are much needed in our region. The 2014 SORONA workshops addresed this need by providing participants with curriculum and activities that can be implemented at their schools - activities that students actually love! Teachers cannot be expected to teach new STEM topics when they, themselves may not be comfortable with the subject matter. SORONA empowered teachers to introduce students to these STEM career options. The focus of these summer workshops was to use a strong project-based component involving interdisciplinary thematic instruction. Workshop participants enjoyed a variety of hands-on interdisciplinary activities with a focus on STEM and collaborated on how to make these happen in their individual schools.

Participants explored the STEM components of three rapidly emerging areas (robotics, electronics, and solar technology) as well as tie-ins to language arts and social studies. We encouraged SORONA participant teachers to present what they have gained in these workshops at their local high schools during faculty meetings. They have our program support to participate in an applied science integrated thematic instruction component as part of their year-long curriculum. This, along with a stronger project-based approach will help solidify an awareness of potential future career pathways for our students.

For additional information, please contact Irina Alvestad, Program Manager, at (505) 661-4696 or irina@unm.edu.

We are very proud of 2013 SORONA Teacher Workshops in Applied Technologies held last year. If you would like to learn more about it please folow this link 2013 SORONA Teacher Workshops

The 2014 SORONA Teacher Workshops


Instructor: Don Davis, Assistant Professor of Applied Sciences, UNM Los Alamos

AThough we live in a high tech world of electronic devices, very few people including students and teachers, have any real idea how these devices work. This portion of the workshop gave teachers a solid foundation and understanding of basic electronics and digital electronics in a fun and hands-on way. Teachers were provided electronic kits to use in their classrooms.

Electronics Lesson Plans



Instructor: Don Davis, Assistant Professor of Applied Sciences, UNM Los Alamos

Last summer, teachers worked with small NXT robots that were programmed to do various tasks. This year, they worked with much larger metal robots that were operated remotely. Teachers designed, built, and drove these larger metal robots, gaining a solid understanding of teleoperated robotics such as those used in rescue-bots, bomb squad robots etc.

Robotics Lesson Plans



Instructor: René Holaday, Adjunct Professor of Solar Technology, UNM Los Alamos

Last summer, teachers explored using photovoltaic modules to generate electricity using the sun’s energy. This year, they explored how to generate an abundance of hot water by using solar hot water collectors. Teachers built an actual solar hot water system, complete with electronic control system, pumps, collectors, expansion tanks, and plumbing. They also learned how to build small hot water collectors - an activity that can be done in the classroom.

Solar Thermal Lesson Plan



Electronics and Robotics:

Don Davis is Assistant Professor of Applied Sciences at UNM-Los Alamos as well as a teacher at Los Alamos High School. Davis has extensive experience in both secondary and post-secondary STEM education. He heads the solar energy and robotics programs at UNMLA and the Pre-Engineering program at Los Alamos High School. He has a background in Industrial Process Engineering. Davis is a national Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and was Los Alamos Public Schools 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year. Don Davis is also a mentor for the Los Alamos High School FIRST Robotics Challenge Team.


René Holaday is Adjunct Professor of Solar Technology at UNM-Los Alamos. She graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a BS in Physics and has worked in synchrotron facilities at BNL (New York), ESRF (Grenoble), and SPring8 (near Himejii, Japan) before coming to LANL in 2002. She and her husband Jim have designed and installed 9 residential PV systems to date, the first with a home-brew inverter in CO in 1984. They also have a 3kW grid-tie installation in White Rock. In a perfect world, René would spend most of her time designing, installing, and teaching others about PV.



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