STEM Innovation Awardees

2018 Awardees

Cassandra Ivie is a senior at Copper Hills High School.  She is the 2018 Computer Technology Sterling Scholar, and the 2018 National 4-H STEM pillar winner and spokesperson. In March she was chosen lead Youth Spokesperson for the National 4-H Council She a past recipient of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award, Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award, and Yale Engineering award. She has spent over 2000 hours during high school developing, testing, and teaching the Incredible Machine engineering curriculum to youth throughout Utah. This fall she will attend Utah State University and has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, among other scholarships and awards.

Todd Monson graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Forestry, a minor in Wildlife Management, and Business. He started teaching at Oquirrh Hills Middle School and realized that he loved the classroom setting and student discovery. He earned his teaching license and endorsements in Middle School and Integrated Science, with a Gifted and Talented emphasis. He has now taught at OHMS for 28 years teaching Earth Science, 8th grade Integrated Science and the 8th grade Accelerated Learning Program science.

During his time teaching he has coached the Science Olympiad team in multiple events with a specialty in the building/engineering events.  His classroom is always full of STEM projects and prototypes of the student’s designs. Each year the Science Olympiad team has placed higher than before at the final State competition. On March 31st his team took 4th place out of 28 middle school teams. He piloted the First Tech Challenge (FTC) team for the Jordan School district and has continued for the past 3 years. His love of learning and teaching the students problem solving has made his team incredibly successful. The OHMS team placed highest of any middle school team in the State finals that included multiple states. Ninety percent of the teams were high school level. This past year he received a STEM Action Center Grant to help fund both of these teams.

Mr. Monson feels that the students need to learn to problem solve and that failure is only a step toward success. His mantra of “Finish what you start!” is emphasized in his classroom which strengthens the growth mind-set of every student. He encourages his students to participate in STEM activities, from school and Community STEM nights to regional STEM Fests. Each of these give the students experience and opportunities to see the importance of STEM in their lives. He frequently tells the students that STEM is all around you. He understands that an investment into STEM students today is important for they are the creators of the future. It is easy to see why his students love his class and develop a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Rachel Fletcher-Counselor

I feel like I’ve walked a slightly unconventional path when it comes to STEM education. After obtaining my French degree from the University of Oregon, my husband and I headed for Nepal, where I spent a year teaching elementary-aged expatriate children in a one room school house. I learned a lot about giardia, creativity with limited supplies, and had the amazing opportunity to adopt our oldest daughter. After a few years in the states, we went on an adventure to New Zealand, where I did my very best to temporarily home-school my children and I learned that Math is being taught in ways I never imagined possible. Then ten years ago, I followed one of my sons to The Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE) to work as a Teacher’s Aid. After two years of sitting through awesome Math and Science classes, I realized my trusty French Degree wasn’t going to come in handy anytime soon, so I went back to school to get my Master’s Degree in School Counseling. I’ve been working in that capacity at SLCSE ever since. I am grateful to be surrounded by faculty whose passion is equipping students to become their best human selves.

SLCSE is a small, diverse community committed to the success of our students. We encourage failing forward, collaboration, taking health risks, and understanding that everyone at the table has something to contribute to the conversation. Success for a student might mean attending an evening welding program at SLCC in their senior year of high school, choosing to participate in Science Fair after overcoming intense anxiety, or going on a week-long school camping trip with when your family has never been camping before. My desire is that each student sees the role education can play in their personal lives and I am in the lucky position to help foster and facilitate that experience.

Kevin Reeve is a volunteer mentor with Cache Makers, a 4-H STEM Club and Maker Space in Logan, UT that he co-founded with a friend in 2013. The goal of Cache Makers is to introduce youth to STEM through fun hands-on activities organized and led by volunteer adult mentors from the local tech community.  Since the start of Cache Makers, more than 3000 youth have participated, and more than 70 adult volunteers have mentored youth there through 6-week projects in a wide-variety of STEM activities.

 

For the past 3 years, Kevin has been mentoring the girls space science group of Cache Makers. This group has developed experiments that have flown on high altitude balloons to 126k feet, designed objects for 3D printing and laser cutting, built and flown model rockets, have learned how to solder electronic circuits, and to program mobile apps and micro-controllers.   Thanks to funding from the STEM Action Center, 24 girls in the space science group have participated in a 6-week aviation course that culminated with them being able to pilot a real airplane in the sky.

Kevin loves it when youth connect with a particular project, and can envision themselves doing it as a career.   “They are ready for this stuff, they just need a good mentor who can get them going.”

 

Principal Spencer Holmgren has worked as a teacher and an administrator in the Logan City School District for the past 12 years. His current assignment is principal of Hillcrest Elementary School where he collaborates with his teachers, students and parents to ensure that students engage in learning that will support each child to make a positive future for themselves and their community.

During his tenure as principal at both Woodruff and Hillcrest Elementary schools, he has lead both schools through the STEM designation process. Spencer believes that by working with teachers, students and parents to acquire the Utah STEM Action Center STEM School Designation, communities learn what things their schools are doing well with STEM and how to improve STEM instruction for every child. In order to strengthen STEM opportunities in each school, Spencer has worked to incorporate STEM professional development for all teachers, and robotics opportunities during both the school day and with clubs that extended beyond the regular school hours.  He has also created student engineering teams to compete in local competitions and provided 21st century STEM materials such as a STEM lab and 3D printing, coding instruction for all students K-5th and the implementation of STEM community nights into each school’s yearly calendar.

Spencer knows that preparing students for success in our global village requires them to have a strong foundation of STEM knowledge and skills. In his experience as an elementary teacher and principal, he has found that students enjoy engaging in an education that is fun and connected to their life experiences–and that this can be accomplished through the integration of STEM instruction throughout the school day.

2017 Awardees

Student: Kathy Liu

Kathy Liu is a senior and will be graduating from West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has been awarded multiple Grand Awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), was the 2017 Utah State Sterling Scholar Winner in Science, and was named the General Sterling Scholar Winner. She believes STEM fields are powerful ways for students to tackle global challenges. She’s excited to continue innovating in the future and expanding STEM opportunities for other students!

Teacher: Dawn McNiel 

Dawn McNiel is a 5th grade teacher at Mountainville Academy in Alpine, Utah. She received her undergraduate in elementary education with a double minor in special education and history and a graduate degree in school leadership from Wilmington University in New Castle, Delaware. “Ms. M&M”, as her student’s know her, has been teaching in Utah for four years. She volunteers in the community at STEM events as a STEM Ambassador for the State of Utah and looks forward to continuing to do so. She is a Facilitator of the Student STEM Action Team and a Team Lead on the faculty STEM Team at Mountainville Academy. As a participant in these Action Teams she has created a school STEM blog, assisted a student in creating a student STEM blog, and created a STEM bulletin board.  She believes heightened awareness of STEM and resources for STEM curriculum will help teachers use the Engineer Design Process in all content areas.

“Ms. M&M” participates in professional development monthly via Edivate, which Mountainville Academy received as a result of the Professional Development Grant she wrote. She recently wrote and received a Sponsorship Grant which allowed her to spearhead Mountainville Academy’s first STEM Expo in March which successfully provided almost 500 participants with STEM experiences. “Ms. M&M” looks forward to the complete implementation of the 1:1 device initiative provided through the Digital Teaching and Learning Grant she assisted writing. She will be attending a Google Boot Camp this summer to support initiative. She is taking the opportunity to receive her STEM endorsement this coming school year as well. This school year she wrote and received the STEM Classroom Grant to provide tangible experiences with negative integers in her Math class. With the help of her Administration and colleagues she will be organizing and creating a STEM Lab for the students of Mountainville Academy this summer.

“Ms. M&M” is dedicated to providing students with an inquiry, project based learning environment where authentic learning can take place. She sees the value of personalized learning, the invaluable use of technology in the classroom, and desires to equip students with 21st century skills. She is grateful for the inspiration and support her three children have been to her as she attended school, graduated, and began her career as an educator.

Counselor: Mark Jones

Mark Jones is a counselor at West Jordan Middle School. On Mondays and Wednesdays he teaches Advanced Programming in their after school STEM program. Mark spent a decade in college working on degrees in English, technical writing, computer science, a master’s in business administration, and a master’s in counseling. He spent several years in Corporate America before making the transition into public education.

Three years ago West Jordan Middle School received a grant to start an after school STEM program. Mark provides curriculum and professional development for the students and teachers. He spends four hours a week educating students on how to make apps for their iPhones & iPads. Mark has run a summer STEM program the past two years for students in Jordan School District. He plays an active role in looking for additional funding to keep these programs going.

Mentor: Jill Wood

Jill Wood is the Day Camp Director for the YMCA of Northern Utah in Weber County. Jill has been with the Y for over seven years, starting in after school programs before creating and expanding full-day Summer Day Camps throughout Ogden. In 2013, she oversaw the opening of the Y’s first full-day camp in Weber County, serving 40 campers, and has since grown the department to include four camps, serving over 325 campers. Last year, in partnership with Weber State University, the Y opened the first STEM Summer Day Camp for K-6 students, offering six weeks of STEM-focused camp and providing nearly $15,000 in financial assistance. In 2017, the STEM Camp will grow to include K-9 students and will operate for 10 weeks, continuing to provide financial assistance to make these services available to families of all income levels.
In addition to her work on the local level, Jill also works for the YMCA of the USA, providing technical assistance to Y’s throughout the country that are seeking to implement and improve STEM in their youth programs. She also works as a project coordinator for Y-USA in helping to create and develop an observation tool to assess gender equity in co-ed STEM settings. Jill is also a state trainer for Click2Science and the National Afterschool Association, helping to pilot a training model for teaching youth providers STEM facilitation skills. These projects have given Jill extensive exposure to all the great work happening in the nation around STEM, and have taught her the value that comes from helping young people learn how to think critically.

Principal/Administrator: John Donley

John Donley has a real passion for STEM Education. He has taught Technology and Engineering courses in grades 7-12 for 10 years and is currently the career and technical education (CTE) coordinator over the technology and engineering programs in Weber School District. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his master’s degree from Utah State University, both in technology and engineering education. He is actively involved in the International Technology and Engineering Teacher Association, which promotes STEM education across the globe. John started his Weber School District’s high school VEX Robotics club and has qualified a team for the VEX Robotics World Championships for five years. He loves working with the students and watching them succeed. John’s passion for STEM Education carries home to his wife and children. His wife is a certified teacher and coaches an elementary VEX IQ robotics team, which his oldest daughter competes on. They have also qualified for the VEX World Championships this year. His younger daughter and son cannot wait until they are old enough to compete in robotics. John also loves camping, hiking, and many other outdoors activities with his family.

2016 Awardees


STUDENT: EMILY NAYLOR

72Emily Naylor has excelled in math and sciences, receiving straight A’s in both. She participated in her school math club. In 2014 Emily was diagnosed with stage five kidney failure due to a rare disease called Dense Deposit Disease. After six months of trying to save the kidney, she had to go on dialysis for a year until finally receiving a new kidney in June of 2015. Unfortunately, she will deal with this disease for the rest of her life, but she hasn’t let it stop her. Even though she missed about a year and a half of school, she is on track to graduate on time and has still kept up her GPA. She was even chosen to be her school’s Sterling Scholar in science. She is thankful for the science that saved her life, for all the scientists in the past that made it possible for her to live, for those that are working for a cure for her disease, and for those that are working on stem cells so that she can regrow her own kidney. She put together a school science day to help middle school students see how fun and exciting science can be.

TEACHER: KATIE ROGERS

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Katie Rogers is a 4th grade STEM teacher at Thunder Ridge Elementary in Saratoga Springs. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho in elementary education. Mrs. Rogers has been teaching in the Alpine School District for 13 years. She has taught 3rd-5th grades and has developed an after-school STEM Club. Mrs. Rogers has taken multiple education classes and received her math endorsement, U.S. History cohort, and is currently completing her STEM endorsement. She was recently awarded the PTA “Teacher of the Year” for her school. Mrs. Rogers has taught in-service classes for her school, district, and also teaches online math classes through the Utah State Office of Education.

She has taught CORE Academy classes and has served on several SAGE testing panels and ACT Inspire teams. She works at writing grants for her classroom and grade level and has received over $10,000 in grant monies this last year. Mrs. Rogers is dedicated to her passion of teaching and helping students. She loves seeing her students engaged in curriculum and extending their education beyond the classroom. She and her husband Neal have three boys who they love playing with.

PRINCIPAL: MATTHEW LOWE

Matthew Lowe

Matthew Lowe has worked in education as a teacher, counselor and administrator for the last 16 years in Utah and California. He now works as a Title I School Site Coordinator at Hurricane Elementary School where he works to make sure his students have access to a great STEM education, better attendance and greater parent involvement. Matthew is an all-round nice guy and is well-liked by his students.

With teacher and parent support, Matthew has created six FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams comprised of more than 40 Hurricane Elementary students. Over the course of a season, these 40 students program their robots, learn teamwork skills, and engineer an inventive solution to a specific problem—and then compete with 55 other teams at the Washington County FLL tournament. Over the past three years, Matthew has been named Washington County FLL Coach of the Year, and his teams have come home with awards for innovation, teamwork, research, presentation skills, strategy and gracious professionalism. As students have left his program and have advanced to intermediate and middle school, Matthew has mentored those schools to allow them to also form robotics clubs that have competed in the regional and state FLL tournament.

Matthew also coordinates and runs after-school and summer robotics programs that teach robotics and programming skills to another 60 2nd and 3rd graders.

Matthew loves his school and his students, and feels lucky to work in the school where his children and neighbors attend and feels a duty to make sure that Hurricane Elementary is a high-achieving school that focuses on STEM education

MENTOR: DR. STEVEN SHUMWAY

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 Dr. Shumway is a professor for the Technology & Engineering Education program in the Fulton College of Engineering and Technology at Brigham Young University. He is an active member of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and is a past-president of the Utah Technology and Engineering Educators Association.

Dr. Shumway has published in various education journals and is a regular presenter at state, regional and national conferences.  His research interests include student motivation in the classroom, and developing and teaching engineering-related curriculum to elementary, middle and high school students.

COUNSELOR: ZACK TEMIRCAN

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Zack Temircan is an Academic Dean at Beehive Science and Technology Academy (BSTA) in Sandy, Utah. Zack received his BS in biology, M.A. in educational leadership, and Ph.D. in health psychology. After graduation, Zack launched his career in Oakland, California, where he began his science teaching, Science Olympiad coaching, science position as department head, and STEM related projects. Zack worked with the UC Berkeley biology/physics department for five years to prepare his students for many International Science Olympiads. That eventually led to many years mentoring and coaching with many students in science. After he received his Master in Educational Leadership, he began working as Dean of Academics at BSTA at the same time he started work on his Ph.D.

He has been working in same position for four years at BSTA and now currently oversees all the academic programs. He provides curriculum and professional development support for teachers and works closely with a diverse group of administrators, teachers and parents to institute numerous programs.

2015 Awardees

STUDENT: TAYLOR JAMES BOARDMAN

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My full name is Taylor James Boardman. I live in Oak City Utah and attend Delta High school. I was born with congenital muscular dystrophy, but my disabilities have helped push me to do well academically. My family has always been big into technology, and I’ve followed in our family’s trends such as building robots, writing programs and tinkering with electronics.
My STEM success started in middle school when I started participating in the SUU Science and Engineering Fairs. Since seventh grade I’ve participated in the science fair every year, and I’ve placed first every year while winning a numerous amount of other awards offered at the fair. When competing at the fair a few months ago for my final time, I had a reserved seat in front because I was winning so many awards. When students compete in the high school division, they can be selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I’ve been selected three times to compete Internationally, and my biggest honor was winning fourth place at the International Fair. The Intel International fair has over 1,700 top students from around the world competing for awards.
I’ve written several programs and I’ve sold a few. I can code in C, C++, Python and HTML. This past year I was the science sterling scholar and was a runner-up. A project I did as a part of that was designing 3D printing car cell-phone holders to help promote our school’s Don’t Drive Stupid program. I’ve volunteered at our summer school, and did many science and robotics demonstrations there. I’m also an active member or our local 4-H and have taught a number of robotics courses using the LEGO NXT robotics kits.
The robots that I create personally are a bit more advanced than LEGOs. I design and 3D print them from my own 3D printer at home. I’ll then wire them up, write the software and use the popular Arduino microcontroller to run them.
I’m glad that there is a push for the STEM programs. It is amazing how much they interconnect. A lot of my accomplishments appear to have been in engineering and technology, but physical science and mathematics are essential to what I do. A lot of my programs are using trigonometry and calculus functions to run. I also appreciate other non-related STEM activities; I enjoy painting and playing the piano to pass the time.
This summer I will be attending BYU and then serving a two-year LDS mission. Currently I intend to major in computer engineering, and hope to one day be able to get a patent for one of the science projects I did.

TEACHER: JOHN TEUSCHER

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John Teuscher is a CTE teacher at Ogden Preparatory Academy. A graduate of Brigham Young University in Technology Teacher Education, Mr. Teuscher has taught at OPA for the last 9 years. During that time he has taught CTE Introduction, Robotics, Computer Technology, and Exploring Technology and has also been the mentor for FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, Science Olympiad and Utah Underwater Robotics.
Mr. Teuscher teaches the entire CTE Introduction curriculum to the 7th grade students at OPA. This curriculum includes Agriculture, Business, Economics, Family and Consumer Science, Health Science, Information Technology, and Technology and Engineering. He has had to learn alongside his students many skills such as sewing, cooking, woodworking, electronics, programming and a variety of other skills and techniques that are usually taught by 3 or more teachers in most schools in the state. Learning new skills and how to use a variety of tools has become a hobby, and he is always looking for more to learn.
Ogden Preparatory Academy is a small charter school in the heart of Ogden and offers many challenges and also many advantages to the local schools. Due to the small size in student population and physical space, Mr. Teuscher does not have a dedicated kitchen or woodshop or sewing room. Instead, he has set his room up in way where students can be working with a variety of tools at the same time. Walk inside his room and you will find a small kitchen, woodworking tools, robotics parts and pieces, a few sewing machines, a computer lab, and a variety of tools and supplies to be creative and to solve problems.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics can be found in almost every project in Mr. Teuscher’s classroom. For example, sewing is combined with simple electronics to create electronic textiles. The science of how electricity and circuits work is explored. Today’s technology is used to create innovative projects. The engineering process is experienced in a whole new way. Mathematics is required to understand the programming needed to make ideas a reality. The result is a Light Show where students can show off their hard work and innovative ideas to their friends, family, and the community.

PRINCIPAL: CANDA MORTENSEN

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Through her work as a Curriculum Director for Alpine School District and as an Assistant Principal at Freedom Elementary, Canda Mortensen works toward furthering STEM achievement for students by procuring devices and supporting teacher training.
She initiated the distribution of more than 2000 Kindles and iPads for use in K-3 classes, then organized the purchase of online libraries for students to have access to thousands of books. She also purchased online materials teachers can use to enhance classroom instruction and increase student engagement.
Canda designed TechU, a website with 100 free lessons that teachers can access day and night, to learn the skills they need to feel confident in expanding their use of technology.
She has served on a district technology committee for administrators who created a workshop series for other principals. Mrs. Mortensen chairs a technology committee at Freedom Elementary that is creating a vision for a world-class techie-elementary school. The teachers on the committee research educational technology practices, then design and implement lessons that include students learning to use PowerPoint, electronic publishing, engineering, coding and robotics, even for the youngest learners in kindergarten.
A guiding principle for her is “Children expect school to match their world and their world is greatly impacted by technology. Their competence with technology in some ways determines their success in the world. Let’s help children succeed.”

MENTOR: LORIE WHITE MILLWARD

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Lorie White Millward is Curator of Curiosity and Inquiry and the Director of Education at Thanksgiving Point Institute. She has been actively involved in informal Science Education and STEM initiatives for more than 25 years and is passionate about helping people explore, discover, and build understandings about the world around them.
Lorie’s extensive STEM experience includes the development of diverse programs and initiatives at the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, and as a consultant for informal learning organizations across the nation.
In 2012 she joined Thanksgiving Point Institute as part of the core team responsible for overseeing the construction, design, exhibitions and programming at all Thanksgiving Point venues including Farm Country, the Museum of Ancient Life, the Gardens, and the Museum of Natural Curiosity. She works to ensure that the programs she develops and administers embody transformative family learning and encourage authentic experiences in science, engineering, technology, and math.
She currently serves as Vice President of the Utah Museums Association Board of Trustees, on the Programming Committee for the Western Museums Association, and as a member of a multi-university field research team studying small mammal communities in the West.

COUNSELOR: MINDY NELSON

Mindy Nelson
With more than 15 years of youth development experience ranging from social work to her current position as Head School Counselor at NUAMES Early College High School, Mindy Nelson is passionate in her belief that education is the great equalizer in leveling the playing field for all youth, regardless of demographics.
Throughout her career she has been an advocate for STEM education. While working with Boys and Girls Clubs she oversaw the development of the Lego Robotics Lab, implementation of summer science clubs, and developed the science and technology curriculum implemented there. One aspect of her current job as a counselor that she feels passionate about is encouraging and assisting students, especially female and minority students to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. She is looking forward to her upcoming year as president of the Utah School Counselors Association where she can share her passion for STEM with other counselors.

The STEM Action Center will hold their first STEM Innovation Awards in partnership with Utah Technology Council at their annual Utah Innovation Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 30, 2015.