Monthly Archives: January 2012

Student Poster Session Winners

Just a short addendum to the last post. Winners were selected among students who participated in the poster session at the 2012 STEM Education Conference in Galveston. They are:

  • Trip Illingworth from Math, Engineering, Technology and Science Academy (METSA) at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton
  • Natalia Tesh from Ball Prep High School in Galveston
  • Camile Barrientos from Harmony School of Science High School in Sugarland
  • Naomi Duru from Ball Prep High School in Galveston

Kudos to all these students, their teachers, and their schools. Great job.

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2012 STEM Education Conference

Did everyone have a good holiday? It always seems a shame that MLK Day follows so closely on the heels of semester break.

I hope that everyone who attended the 2012 STEM Education Conference in Galveston this year had as much fun as I had. I love conferences that provide ideas for what you can do in the classroom. And I liked being on the coast so that we could have some great seafood. We have fish in the Texas panhandle, but it just isn’t as fresh. Thanks to UTMB for sponsoring the event. Did anyone else attend?

Let’s talk about a couple things I read today.

A year or more ago, I watched a PBS movie about Temple Grandin, who has a PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. In the movie, she created a kind of cattle chute for herself, which she called a “squeeze box,” that provided her with a contained space that calmed her down when her senses became overloaded. Today I read “Engineering Class Creates Safe Haven for Child with Autism” about students at the Community College of Baltimore County who helped a child with autism by creating two spaces in his home that he can retreat to when he’s threatened with sensory overload. How wonderful it is when student projects can help people.

And, to end on a note near and dear to my heart…iPads. I read a Wired Campus article, “What I’ve Learned from Teaching with iPads,” which points out strengths and weaknesses and gives suggestions for using iPads in school. When I was teaching, I knew that many students wouldn’t be as interested in technology as I, but that was a long time ago. Now I have a tendency to see students as tech savvy and to assume that they all know more than I. The article points out that that ain’t necessarily so. And the comments from readers provide a range of feelings about using technology. Have you used iPads or other technology in your classroom?

That’s all for today. Because I’ve been out of the office, my thoughts are a little random. Next week I’ll tell you about the Kelton students who came to tour campus.

Tech’s T-STEM Center says Hello!

As my first statement of this new year, let me begin by saying that this is my first blog, so please be patient. I am Debbie Nash, Associate Director of the Texas Tech T-STEM Center. I started working at the Center in January 2011…I’ve been here a year now! I have a BS is in secondary education with fields in English and business administration and an MA is in English composition and rhetoric. Before coming here, I worked at Texas Tech for about 16 years in K-12 distance education at what is now Tech’s University College, first as an editor and then director of the Curriculum department.

Texas Tech’s T-STEM Center was awarded a Texas Education Agency T-STEM Center grant in 2006 to begin operation as the Texas Tech University T-STEM Center, and we are housed in the Whitacre College of Engineering. We work with K-12 teachers and school administrators to help them introduce STEM subjects (science technology, engineering, and math)–especially engineering–to middle and high school students through project-based learning. Although engineering courses are not prevalent in K-12 education yet, a growing body of evidence indicates that engineering is exactly what students need to prepare them for 21st Century skills (see, for example, http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ocga/testimony/Engineering_in_K-12_Education.asp). Research indicates that often students are unfamiliar with engineering, (see http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2011/12/06/exposure-to-engineering-doubles-teens-career-interest), so we at Tech’s T-STEM Center feel the need to get the word out and educate teachers, administrators, students, and the community about engineering and career opportunities in engineering.

Texas has seven T-STEM Centers, and each Center is responsible for the success of  T-STEM Academies by providing teachers and administrators professional development in STEM, by developing and writing STEM curriculum, and by helping schools bring about school reform.  Besides curriculum and professional development, the Centers provide on-going support and resources to assist the schools in becoming STEM schools that are exemplar schools.  So, during the course of this blog, I’ll be talking about what some of our schools are accomplishing. For example, below I’ll tell you about New Deal, Presidio, and Roscoe.

Dr. Jerry Adams, the principal of New Deal T-STEM Academy in New Deal, Texas (http://www.newdealisd.net/HighSchool/), was selected by Raise Your Hand Texas (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/events/news/adams_harvard.php) as one of over 100 public school leaders in Texas to attend the Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year. In addition, Jerry was named Principal of the Year for Region XVII, and he was named as one of three finalists for Texas Principal of the Year (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/events/news/adams_recognition.php). We are very proud of Jerry and New Deal T-STEM Academy. Read more about them at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/events/news/ndhs.php. What a great year to be a New Deal Lion!

Shella Condino, a science teacher at Presidio High School (http://presidiohs.edclick.com/) began working with Dr. John Chandler in our T-STEM Center in 2007 on a rocketry program for Presidio students. In May 2010, their rocketry teams, Presidio Pride and Presidio Spirit placed at the Team America Rocketry Challenge, which allowed them to submit proposals to be invited to NASA’s Student Launch Initiative (SLI). Their proposals were accepted, and they participated in SLI in April 2011 (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/events/news/presidio_rocketry.php). In addition, Shella has been named the 2011 A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Teacher of the Year (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/events/news/condino_award.php). Way to go Shella and Presidio High School!

Tiffany Robinson, a distinguished science teacher at New Deal T-STEM Academy and Dan Boren a distinguished physics teacher at Roscoe Early College High School (http://www.roscoe.esc14.net/] have been selected to participate in a week-long teacher professional development opportunity, Transmission Electron Microscopes, at Texas Tech in July 2012. More about this event and these teachers in July.

That’s all for today. I’ll attempt to write a little every week to keep readers informed about our T-STEM Center, STEM education in Texas and in the U.S., our Center’s academies, early college high schools, and designated schools, useful information about PBL, and other things I think may be of interest. I’m always interested in hearing if there are ways I can help you, too, so please let me know if you would like me to address particular information or if you have ideas that may make this blog more effective. And please participate in the blog by leaving your comments. I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope you enjoy my blog.