Eighteen Indiana Uplands school teachers begin year-long STEM Fellowship program

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ROI’s second cohort of STEM Fellows kicked off last week. Eighteen educators from schools in the Indiana Uplands gathered July 30-31 at WonderLab Museum to begin a year-long leadership and teaching program to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities in K-6 schools.

“Last year ROI had the pleasure of working with 15 forward-thinking and passionate elementary educators who were eager to become STEM experts in their schools,” said Director of Education and Workforce Todd Hurst. “This year,18 new educators join the fellowship, creating a network of 33 elementary teachers working to purposefully integrate STEM within their schools – a task that not only directly supports the key industry needs of the Uplands region, but also has the potential to change the lives of kids.”

The 2018-2019 STEM Fellow cohort includes:

Teacher School County
Brittney Bateman Loogootee Elementary Martin
Sherry Butcher North Daviess Elementary Daviess
Emily Freeman Ireland Elementary Dubois
Brad Garrison Spencer Elementary Owen
Amy Gordon Sprunica Elementary Brown
Lacey Higgins North Elementary Daviess
Audra Jahn Fifth Street Elementary Dubois
Seasonal Lawson Loogootee Elementary Martin
Michelle Mattox Bloomfield Elementary Greene
Aaron Pickett Bradie Shrum Elementary Washington
Clay Raber North Daviess Elementary Daviess
Jo Roach Helen Griffith Elementary Daviess
Kelly Schroering Cedar Crest Intermediate Dubois
Crystal Shellenberger Throop Elementary Orange
Cierra Simmons Edgewood Primary Monroe
Jennifer Solari St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Lawrence
Naomi Trojan Needmore Elementary Lawrence
Shannon Wagler Loogootee Elementary Martin

The two-day kick-off event was an opportunity for STEM Fellows to work collaboratively and set the stage to help them begin to build a community of practice while developing both content knowledge and peer coaching skills. Fellows are encouraged to think deeper about STEM teaching and to leave with not only new lesson plans and ideas but also a better understanding of how to make connections to science, technology, engineering, and math throughout the instructional day. They also worked to develop skills that will help them become a STEM leader within their schools, share learnings with their colleagues, and encourage other teachers to integrate STEM into their own curriculum.

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STEM Fellows use paper to simulate a roller coaster. The goal was to create a track that would deliver a marble in the slowest time possible using loops, ramps, and funnels.
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STEM Fellows learn about the engineering design process through an exercise to build a tower that would hold a large marshmallow using only spaghetti, mini-marshmallows, and tape.

In addition to professional development activities, Cohort 2 STEM Fellows toured Cook Polymer in Bloomington to learn more about advanced manufacturing and to talk to an industry partner about skills needed for jobs at all levels.

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STEM Fellows and the ROI education team prepare to tour Cook Polymer in Bloomington to explore how STEM and soft skills are used at the advanced manufacturing facility.

The STEM Fellow program was developed in response to ROI’s Occupational Needs Assessment, which emphasizes the importance of having STEM-literate students to meet current and future workforce needs and to provide a basis for continued economic growth and prosperity in our region.

“In the world of today, STEM Skills equate to success and opportunity,” said CEO Tina Peterson. “Here at home, in the Indiana Uplands, we know that our key employers desperately need a workforce equipped to handle the rapid digitization of work. These elementary educators are forging a path that can only lead to greater success for students. Young people are naturally wired to be curious and engaged in all things STEM, and it makes no sense to wait until middle school or later to begin teaching STEM. ROI is excited to work with these dedicated professionals in empowering kids and educators to make STEM come alive in the elementary school years.”

During the 2018-2019 school year, STEM Fellows will participate in additional professional development activities focused on experiential learning, engineering design process, project-based learning, meaningful technology integration, coding and other relevant topics. Fellows will provide support to colleagues to grow the regional network of skilled STEM educators.

Fellows are expected to commit to being at the same school for at least two years and to serve as a STEMbassador to peers in future cohorts of STEM educators. Participants in the program receive a $2,500 stipend the first year and STEM resources and materials. Substitute teacher costs are also covered to allow Fellows to attend professional development throughout the year.

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.:

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands, a region encompassing Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties. ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and regional engagement initiatives for quality of place development. More information can be found at https://swcindiana.org/

More information on STEM Fellows: https://swcindiana.org/stem-fellows/.

Feature Video showcasing STEM Fellows in Cohort 1 & student experiences (2017-2018): https://youtu.be/xPhOQ41sOQA

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