Bobby and Karen Cue have had strong influences on their own grown children, Christina and Robbie – and as Aiken County educators, have done so with teachers and students throughout the county.

Karen has taught middle school science in the county for many years. Bobby is a math specialist in conjunction with the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center.

Last week he worked with middle school teachers during a workshop – Karen among them. Bobby has collaborated with other Ruth Patrick instructors, Gwen Johnson and Gloria Allen, through a multifaceted project.

“The majority of us have been involved in this since last fall,” Karen said. “Bobby and I met at USC Aiken, and it’s been like our home.”

They don’t talk about math much at their own home, Karen said with a smile, but “When I do need help with struggling children, I can ask him for strategies. It’s fun to be here with him this week.”

Elementary teachers completed a similar workshop earlier this month. The middle school workshop expanded on strategies intended for the older students.

“We’re trying to move students from the way we learned math – going from procedural to conceptual,” Bobby said. “We have to work with real-world applications and 21st century skills and needs in terms of career and college-readiness.”

That approach can be difficult for adults to grasp from a time when they were told what do in math class and they did it, Cue said. Children are saying “what” and “why” far more – allowing students to actually explore and develop a deeper understanding of their learning.

The teachers participated in a wide range of activities throughout the week that they can take back to their kids – flight, wind structure, bridge-building, paper structures and an egg drop. Cue also invited them to develop ideas for a safer football helmet.

“We want to get students to think, problem-solve and make analyses of what they’re creating for themselves,” Cue said.

Courtney Harley, a Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School teacher, appreciated the chance to find more ways to integrate math and science in her classroom.

“It’s been a lot of fun with all the hands-on activities,” Harley said. “It has really kept my attention ... like being a kid again.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.