2015 STEM Educator Award Winners

A spotlight on the 2015 winners and highlights from their submissions.

Middle School Winner

Brandy Whitney
Ottoson Middle School
Arlington, MA

Whitney “not only delivers cutting-edge technology curriculum to her students at the Ottoson Middle School, but she has also worked tirelessly to improve and update that curriculum,” says Larry Weathers, K–12 director of science and technology for the Arlington Public Schools. “She moved the program from a traditional ‘tech’ program toward one that integrates all of the pieces of a true STEM program. From 3D printers and iPad simulations, to student presentations and underwater robotics, she has developed a program that students are eager to attend and in which they are exposed to a range of possibilities in STEM fields.” She has inspired colleagues as well. “As a veteran teacher, her STEM and technological expertise has pushed me to become a deeper thinker when it comes to creating lessons, engaging students, and continually looking to improve instructional methods,” observes Gary Blanchette, technology/engineering teacher at Ottoson Middle School.

“Her master’s thesis paper addressed the need to bring attention to the role of women in the field of STEM education,” notes John N. Papadonis, elementary/middle school science coordinator at Cambridge College’s School of Graduate Education. “As a highly recognized national STEM instructor, Ms. Whitney truly represents an exemplar in the field of women in STEM education. She is a role model for females who wish to compete in this highly competitive and mostly male area of study.”

High School Winner

Doug Baltz
Ernest W. Seaholm High School
Birmingham, MI

Baltz’s STEM Research and Design course provides opportunities for students to develop a STEM-related research project while embedding externships with professional mentors from businesses and universities. It parallels the Next Generation Science Standards because students learn “authentic engineering skills by designing and analyzing processes,” maintains Linda Wichers, Seaholm’s science department chair. She notes that Baltz “has turned out more engineering students than anyone, and before they were his students, most did not even know what engineers did at work.”

In addition, Baltz has worked with the Birmingham Education Foundation to develop a “STEM Saturday” program for fourth and fifth graders. “This hands-on learning experience is for students who may not have opportunities for enrichment activities that support and encourage learning in the sciences,” explains Paul DeAngelis, deputy superintendent for educational services for the Birmingham Public Schools. He praises both the program’s curriculum and Baltz’s extensive partnerships with businesses and universities “to deepen the support of the program.” 

High School Winner

Ian Fogarty
Riverview High School
Riverview, New Brunswick
Canada

Fogarty’s classroom impacts classrooms in Canada, the United States, Amman, Beijing, and Hong Kong because he has partnered with teachers and students in all of these locations on real-world STEM projects. He has “imparted 21st-century learning skills” to colleagues worldwide, “including STEM, collaborative learning techniques and strategies, SMARTBoard utilization, and [use of] probeware. Since Ian and I share the same science teaching specialization, I was particularly fortunate to learn and be mentored in small-group sessions and be provided with relevant and focused feedback,” says Norma Jean Adair, one of Fogarty’s teacher mentees in Beijing. She adds that Fogarty “offered a tremendous amount of support as we experimented with these new apps and devices in our classrooms.”

Fogarty gives students who never would have taken a programming or design or electronics or agricultural course an opportunity to work in those areas and discover a newfound passion. “By integrating technology and experiential learning into the classroom, he was and is able to engage a broader range of students. We did a steak lab, completed a cheesy lab, used a SMART Board before anyone knew what they were, dropped balls from balconies, went to the park, used online resources and tests, and had more fun learning that I thought was possible,” asserts former student Jocelyn Ball. Despite the challenging work his classes require, “year after year, his classes are full, and students leave at the end of the term having learned as much about life as they have about chemistry or physics,” she contends.