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Philippe Guegan, of CU Teach, at left, demonstrates a way to make a pattern on a tie dye t-shirt to Tyler Walls, a 7th-grader at Prospect Ridge Academy in Broomfield, as part of Engineers Week at IBM's Boulder campus on Tuesday morning February 19, 2013. The CU Teach program is a four-year degree/licensure program that allows students to complete an education in a mathematics or science major and fulfill the requirements for a Colorado initial teaching license in Secondary Mathematics or Secondary Science.

S tudents from the University of Colorado's Teach program have their hands tied up in T-shirt dye this week as they educate middle school students about math and science.

CU Teach, a teacher education program in its fifth year, combines science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes with hands-on education training for CU students, who in turn receive a teaching license upon graduation.

This week, CU Teach students are coaching middle school students from across the state how to tie-dye T-shirts as a part of National Engineering Week.

"Tie-dying actually has great chemistry application," said Caleb Ulliman, student director of CU Teach. "They're learning about how dyes work, neutralizing acids, spatial reasoning. It's a very complete lesson, plus it's so fun and they get to take the shirts home."

CU Teach is part of a bigger E-week celebration at Boulder's IBM offices, which will host fun and educational activities for 1,000 Colorado K-12 students today through Thursday.

IBM's E-week chair Rebecca Nadeau said the information technology company is hoping the activities, which include building LEGO robots and spaghetti and marshmallow towers, will get future generations excited about STEM subjects.

"IBM is full of engineers like me who love math and science," Nadeau said. " We love to see kids getting excited about it because they will be the future engineers running this company."

Alexia Nattrass, a seventh-grader at Prospect Ridge Academy in Broomfield, said she already likes science because of its fun activities, but so far tie-dying T-shirts is her favorite.


"It makes learning about science more fun," Nattrass said. "We normally do fun projects but this is my favorite."

Ulliman said seeing kids like Nattrass get excited about science is why he joined the CU Teach program.

"I love science, so if I can pass that on to these students then that's my ultimate goal," he said. "I didn't realize what an impact I could make on these kids as a teacher until I joined CU Teach.

"Now I see the power of using these activities to get them pumped up."

-- Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.