Name: Mary Young
Position/Title: STEM Lab Facilitator/Teacher – Pine Middle School
Grade Level: 6-8
How would you describe your path to becoming a STEM teacher?
I started out as an Elementary teacher teaching 1st grade in Carson City. Carson added computer labs to the elementary schools and hired certified teachers to teach computer literature and applications. I earned my computer application endorsement and taught computer applications for 5 years. After moving away for a couple of years, then moving back to Reno, I was hired as the computer applications teacher and systems administrator for St. Teresa’s Catholic School in Carson City and was there for 5 years. I earned my Masters in Technology in Education from Lesley University while I was working at Pine as the STEM Lab Facilitator. I have gone to several trainings that were put on by Creative Learning Systems (CLS). CLS is the company that installed the STEM Lab at many of the Washoe County School District Middle Schools. Pine’s lab has been up and running since 2008 when I was hired.
What are some of your favorite projects/assignments for your students?
Some of my favorite projects are the robotics projects using LEGO Minestorm and EV3 robot kits, Stop Motion Animation, and having the kids use K’NEX to build models of simple machines or more complex compound machines.
What are some challenges you face as a STEM teacher?
Some of the challenges I face include making sure the students are getting the most out of each project they complete, and keeping myself educated on the most current technologies.
Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for parents and their students interesting in signing up for STEM lab?
I would highly encourage students to take these courses. They are student driven which gives students a lot of responsibility and helps them learn the skills they will need to be successful in any career they choose. WCSD has six 21st Century Competencies that they encourage all students to master. By participating in STEM Lab, most students master the majority of these competencies.
Are you involved in any after-school STEM activities?
I coach FIRST LEGO League teams at Pine. Each year we have at least 2 teams and for last year we had four teams. When the FLL season is over I run a robotics club after school.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
I have many. It is so exciting when students teach me something I did not know. This happens a lot through their presentations when they teach the class what they did and how they did what they did.
If you were granted $5,000 to upgrade your classroom, how would you spend the funds?
I would purchase a Macintosh computer to enhance my Music Engineering engagement. I would also purchase iPads and smaller aerial vehicles so students can program these vehicles. If there is training available for me to learn more about 3-D printing and how to use it in the lab, that would be a priority as well.
Thank you, Mary, for sharing your story and your classroom with us; and thank you for inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals!
If you are a STEM teacher that would like to be featured, please contact me. I love putting faces and stories to the awesome STEM teachers in this world!
Photos from http://pinestemlab.weebly.com/