Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shella Condino in Presidio Named an Outstanding STEM Teacher

The 2012 DiscoverE Educators Awards were presented this week, and Shella Condino from Presidio High School was named an Outstanding STEM Teacher.

Javaris Powell of Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., and Derek Sale of Paul Robeson Malcom X Academy in Detroit were also named Outstanding STEM Teachers.

Congratulations to everyone, but special congratulations to our friend Shella at our T-STEM Academy! Read more here:


Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Panel via Webinar

Tricia Berry is Director of  the Women in Engineering Program and of the Texas Girls Collaborative Project, and she posted the information below in her West Texas K12  STEM Outreach newsletter ( Thanks to Tricia for this exciting information.

You’re invited…and spread the word to your students of all ages!

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day Panel via Webinar

Thursday, February 23, 1 – 2 p.m. Central Time

Register online and get more information at

Moderator and Panelists:

  • Melissa Rohland, P.E. – Project Management Office Leader @ Bentley Systems, Inc., & Mentor
  • Karen Armfield, P.E. – Associate Vice President of AECOM Transportation, & Regional Coordinator for Student Competition
  • Angela Matthews, P.E. – Project Engineer @ Saenz+Burry Engineering, & Chapter Coordinator for Student Competition
  • Aparna Phadnis, P.E. – Senior Software Quality Analyst @ Bentley Systems, & Artist
  • Elizabeth Metting, P.E. – Assistant Director/City Engineer for the City of Frisco, TX, & Mentor
  • Nicole Torres – Chemical Engineering Senior and Women in Engineering Program Peer Mentor and Student Leader, The University of Texas at Austin

Listen as they share the spark that ignited their passion for the STEM field, challenges, wisdom gained along the way, and the reminders that make them thankful of the career choices made.

Rigor and PBL

New Texas exams, teachers and students are told, will require more RIGOR, which may be intimidating. But, does rigor mean that courses have been taught incorrectly, or were teachers doing something wrong that must be put right? I don’t think so. I don’t believe that TEA or the State is trying to make it impossible for students to move into another grade or to graduate; I think education has just become more complex and that the state is trying to prepare students for college and/or for the business world. I know that institutions of higher education and businesses expect students to come to them with more complex knowledge and with a greater ability to think critically than they’ve required in the past. And I know that statistics indicate that U.S. students are falling behind much of the rest of the world in education. We need to expect more from our students so that they’ll be able to compete globally.

Bob Lenz, in his Edutopia blog, has a short list of suggestions for redesigning K-12 education to help students, teachers, and administrators prepare for “deeper learning.” (

T-STEM Centers, Educate Texas, and the TEA all support project-based learning (PBL) because it helps students grow by demanding rigor and honing critical thinking skills. Heather Wolpert-Gawron in her Edutopia blog says she decided to use PBL in her classes in order to stop teaching to the test. (

Does increased rigor intimidate you? Have you tried PBL? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Presidio visits the White House

Presidio has had an incredibly exciting day this week. On Wednesday, February 8, Shella Condina and three of her Presidio rocketry students–Janet Nieto, Ana Karen, and Gwynelle Condino—took part in the second White House Science Fair.

President Obama was impressed with the hard work of the Presidio students. The rocketry students, including the ones who were unable to attend, are from one of the poorest areas in Texas. They held fundraisers, including a goat raffle, to be able to attend national rocketry competitions and events.

The young ladies requested and received a group hug from the President, and, in return, they gave him a gift. On February 25, 2012, a short documentary film about Presidio’s success in national science and rocketry competitions will be shown at the Rose Marine Latin Film Festival in Fort Worth The Presidio students gave the President a copy of the documentary.

Kelton came to town

We were excited to welcome a group of middle and high school students and teachers from Kelton ISD to Texas Tech on January 20. We showed them around campus (actually, Beccy did because I don’t walk fast enough for students who’ve been sitting on a bus for four hours) and explored several areas of the Whitacre College of Engineering. These students and teachers will be collaborating on a project with Texas Tech undergraduate students this spring and learning about computational thinking related to an NSF CPATH grant the Computer Science Department at Tech received.

Dr. Al Sacco, the Dean of the College of Engineering, started things off with a bang by welcoming the students and teachers.

Dr. Bill Marcy, Executive Director of our T-STEM Center and of the Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism/National Institute for Engineering Ethics (NIEE) told the students about computational thinking. And Rich Burgess, Deputy Director for Distance Learning at the Murdough Center/NIEE talked to them about ethics and why it’s important for them.

Dr. Tim Dallas showed everyone around his Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Lab. He explained several projects he’s working on, including one that will help hospital and nursing home attendants know when a patient has fallen.

Graduate students in Dr. Mohan Sridharan’s Robotics Lab showed off the skills of several robots and how simple programs can be written telling the robots what to do.

And Jaimie Perez from New Student Orientation and Financial Aid in the College of Engineering explained the process of becoming a Tech student. She also explained that the colors of the t-shirts students had been given were linked to certain engineering departments on campus.

Thanks for coming to Tech, Kelton! We had a wonderful time.