STEM Education is a new approach to teaching and learning characterized by challenging, problem-based learning experiences that tear down compartmentalized disciplines and curriculums, and engage students in scientific inquiry and the engineering design process. To support this learning revolution, the Dayton Regional STEM Center (DRSC) coordinates an established network of regional institutions and professionals that provides rich opportunities for STEM education by training and supporting educators, designing curriculum aligned to the workforce needs, training school leaders at the district and building level, and supporting schools and program models committed to STEM teaching and learning.
The DRSC has created a STEM Fellows Model which has brought together 100 of the best and the brightest professionals in the region—a mix of preschool through high school teachers, higher education faculty and researchers, and practicing STEM industry professionals—to work in teams to align academic standards, curricula and assessments with the expectations of college and work in key regional economic clusters.
Two of our Bishop Leibold teachers, Melissa Cox and Joyce Kerschner, were selected as STEM Fellows with twenty other area educators in the program’s inaugural year. They completed a rigorous training prior to the beginning of BLS STEM in the fall of 2010, and during the school year engaged in weekly training and development sessions at the Dayton Regional STEM Center. Their work involved visits to area business and research sites to learn more about educational requirements for these fields, professional training in selection and development of STEM curriculum and instruction on methods to implement and integrate STEM education in their school. Their STEM Fellow responsibilities include piloting and providing feedback about the Dayton Regional STEM lessons and acting as STEM education advocates in their educational community.
Mrs. Kerschner is a graduate of the University of Dayton. She logged over 40 hours of writing experience as a STEM Fellow, working on the “Let’s Generate” and “Mission to Mars” lessons. In addition to her work with the STEM Center, Mrs. Kerschner has 30 hours training in Waterbotics, with the completion of a course at Sinclair. Waterbotics is a STEM-directed underwater robotics program where students learn to use icon-based programming to control underwater robots. What she enjoys most about teaching STEM is the satisfaction students have when they overcome difficulties they experience on a challenging problem. "They learn so many lessons as they work through the Engineering Design Process. The lessons carry over to all of their school subjects and challenges. Students start to see reasons to learn some of the topics they formerly considered ‘when-are-we-ever-going-to use-this?’ topics. I particularly enjoy seeing students discover the math they learn in class really does have a use in real life!"
Miss Cox is a graduate of Ohio University. She is beginning her second year working with the STEM Fellowship, and in 2011 began serving as a Senior Fellow. She has had over 70 hours of training and observation in the engineering fields and industries, and 40 hours writing curriculum. Last year along with her team she co-authored three STEM lessons centered around inquiry- based learning: “What’s Up with Weather?” dealing with weather instruments and maps, “The Amazing Solar Race” centered around the alternative energy source of solar power whereby students put together and race solar cars, and a plant lesson where students determine and test the essential needs of plant survival. This year she will be co-authoring two more lessons with a new team. Due to her training and experience writing STEM lessons Miss Cox has been able to bring this knowledge back into her classroom at BLS. Last year she piloted the chemistry lesson “Slime Time” with her fifth-grade class. She says that the best part of teaching STEM is getting the students to think and problem-solve on their own and watching as they take their ideas and run with them.
Miss Jill Klimaski became our third BLS STEM Fellow in 2012-13. She is a graduate of Ashland University and earned her Master's of Education Degree from Walden University. She has been a teacher for over ten years, with seven of those at Bishop Leibold School. She assists in moderating the school FLL Lego Robotics Competition Team and has instructed in the school’s Summer Robotics Camp. She appreciates the STEM Fellow opportunity to be part of a team of elementary teachers, industry fellows, and Higher Ed fellows writing STEM curriculum targeting Grades 3-5. Miss Klimaski notes that as a STEM Fellow, she enjoys working and sharing ideas with other area STEM teachers with different backgrounds. She particularly benefitted from visiting area STEM-related businesses to better understand the processes and technologies and how application and innovation will apply to her students’ futures. She enjoys piloting Dayton Regional STEM units with her third-grade class, with her favorite being "What’s the Commotion about Erosion?" and has been hard at work on a Biomedical Engineering/Materials Science unit "Prime Medical Packaging" for the third-grade level. "I think students find STEM activities to be interesting, fun, hands-on learning opportunities," Miss Kilmaksi reports. "They are so engaged that they don't even realize how hard they are working sometimes, critically thinking and solving a real world problem. After hearing what the people at the industries had to say, it's really neat to think about the opportunities that our kids will have in the future if they stick with these STEM fields."