2012 STEM Educator Award Winners

A spotlight on the 2012 winners and highlights from their submissions.

Elementary School Winner

Lesa Roe
Leesburg Elementary


Lesa has developed a STEM project based on a plant vertical stacking hydroponic gardening system. Students explore alternatively engineered ways of growing vegetables in a limited space as well as investigate the use of different growing mediums and methods. Temperature, fertilizer levels, and pH are collected utilizing sensor technology. Microscopes are used to observe pests and infestation on the plants. When the vegetables are ready, students run a market and sell them. This approach allows students to develop various skills, in a real life way, that integrate math, science, technology, and engineering.

Middle School Winner

Heather Stewart
Paxton School

“Is Lake Jackson Safe?” is the title of Heather’s STEM project. Students engage in an inquiry-based, technology infused study of water quality with real-world applications over a period of several weeks. Students utilize STEM elements on a daily basis by using sensor-based data collection for water quality testing, analyze the data (math skills), and engineer design barriers for protecting the lake from waste-water run off all within the context of a relevant environmental issue. Field trips are taken to collect the water samples and make observations. This project is part of a larger interdisciplinary study that includes geography, language arts, and math courses. Students are expected to interview local scientists and create public announcements to be aired on the local radio to inform the public of their findings.

Middle School Winner

Donna Markey
Vista Magnet Middle School

Donna’s students create solutions to simulated and real problems using STEM elements. In one such investigation, students identify liquid waste from an imaginary metal plating company. They use the SPARK SLS and sensors to determine characteristics of the water such as temperature and pH. Once the liquid is identified, students apply their knowledge of concentration, neutralization, and precipitation to develop procedures for cleaning up the waste. The students then apply this knowledge by collecting data, using the same technology, from a local creek, to analyze water quality. Over several months, students use their real-world data to note trends and propose explanations.

High School Winner

Sherrie Chovanec & Peter Fischer
Hiram High School

Sherrie and Peter have collaborated to deliver STEM education to Special Education and AP Physics students in a unique way. Understanding the diversity of the groups, they developed student-centered learning environments that included hands-on experiences, data collection and analysis with interactive visualization (SPARK SLS). The AP Physics students are peer teachers to the Mild Intellectual Disabilities (MID) students.  They work together to learn physical science concepts through inquiry-based labs, collecting data with sensors, and interpreting and then analyzing the data.  The infusion of educational technology with the application of scientific and mathematical skills has been the key to the program’s success.

High School Winner

Ophelia Barizo
Highland View Academy

Ophelia provides her students with a relevant, project-based STEM education that incorporates hands-on learning, scientific inquiry, and critical thinking skills. One of her STEM projects she has implemented is “Save the Bay”. She partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust for students to learn about relevant issues in their community and develop possible solutions. Students do field work using sensor technology to gather data on water quality; they monitor dissolved oxygen, pH, and salinity. Their results are shared through science fair projects and through presentations at a nearby elementary school.