Meet Mr. Robin Hill – Finalist for 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

September 23, 2010

Mr. Robin Hill - Nominee for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science is pleased to introduce Mr. Robin Hill– a teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9 in the Rochester City School District – as a nominee for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award.

This award is given annually to recognize effective, engaging, and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching in grades K-12 in Monroe and nine surrounding counties.

Hill is dedicated to teaching math and science from an inquiry approach to learning. He believes that this approach allows his students to find multiple pathways to solve problems while constructing new knowledge.  Hill also makes an effort to incorporate technology into his instruction on a regular basis.

For example, at the culmination of many hours of instruction on fractions, Hill involved his 4th grade students in an activity he titled Mathsterpiece Theater, which involved the planning, filming, and producing of a video dramatization of a math story problem.

In this activity students were given the problem, “How can four friends share seven cookies equally?”  A small group of students developed the story around this problem and worked out the solution.

The activity was filmed by one of Hill’s students who had been trained in video production. The first half of the video shows how the seven cookies were shared equally using a concrete model. The video was then shown to the entire class, who were responsible for writing explanations of how the cookies should be shared for the second half of the video.  Students shared their written explanations with peers, and were given feedback on accuracy, clarity, and use of vocabulary. The second half of the video depicts the explanations developed by these students.

This video can be used as an instructional tool for groups of students studying fractions. There is an interactive intermission between the two halves of the video, which calls for viewers to come up with an explanation of the work seen in the first half.  Viewers are then able to compare their explanations to the ones depicted in the second half of the video.

 

Mr. Robin Hill teaching at School #9 in the Rochester City School District.

When asked why he integrated this activity into his classroom Hill said, “I created this activity in direct response to a need I saw in my students.  That need was to be able to clearly explain the steps that were used to solve math problem and to provide reasoning and proof.  To that end, this activity had a great impact on my students.  Students worked cooperatively to draft explanations needed for the second half of the video.  They took suggestions from peers and the result was that my students wrote several explanations that were clear, rich in vocabulary, and varied in complexity of the math used.  This activity was not only highly engaging but it allowed the students to share their knowledge and take ownership of their learning. “

 

This kind of instruction exemplifies what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9 Principal, Sharon Elaine Jackson, wrote about Hill in her recommendation letter.  “Mr. Hill is a hard-working, dedicated, and diligent teacher.  Het sets high standards for himself, and most importantly, his students.”

Hill, has taught in elementary classrooms in the Rochester City School District for 18 years.  He recently moved into a new position, teaching technology to K-6 students in a computer lab at Martin Luther King Jr. School #9.  With a focus on media production, Hill helps students create pod-casts, animation, video, and print media using content learned in the classroom.

Hill also serves as a lead teacher mentor for the Rochester City School District where he works with first year teachers to help them and their students have a successful year.

Congratulations to Robin Hill and the other four finalists for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award: Robert Hollwedel, Andy Maillet, Laura Westerman, and Scott Krebbeks.

Visit the Rochester Area College’s Center for Excellence in Math and Science’s website to view finalist’s activities.

Article by RACCEMS’s Graduate Assistant Katie Monroe at kmonroe6@naz.edu

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Meet Mrs. Laura Westerman – Nominee for 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

September 16, 2010

 

Mrs. Laura Westerman - 2010 Nominee for Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

 

The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science is pleased to introduce Mrs. Laura Westerman – a Science teacher at Dake Junior High School in West Irondequoit – as a nominee for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award.

This award is given annually to recognize effective, engaging, and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching in grades K-12 in Monroe and nine surrounding counties.

Mrs. Westerman, who teaches 7th grade General Science at Dake Junior High School, received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Science Education from Syracuse University and recently completed her Masters degree in Literacy (grades 5 – 12) at SUNY Geneseo.

Mrs. Westerman is committed to developing learning experiences that are authentic, inquiry based and hands on.  For example, Westerman created an activity titled “The Atomic Dating Game,” to help students envision and understand chemical bonding and reactivity between atoms.

During the atomic dating game, students make an atomic drawing of the element “Mr. Sodium” and have a brief discussion about its reactivity.  In a game show format, the students then meet the bachelorettes who are candidates for dating or bonding with Mr. Sodium.  Based on what they have learned about chemical reactivity the students chose the correct bond or “date” for Mr.  Sodium.  Students create additional couples for Ms. Oxygen, Ms. Neon, and Mr. Boron, and discover further bonding relationships.  Students also work in collaborative groups to identify element couples and identify different patterns associated with ionic and covalent bonding.

To assess student understanding, Westerman has students create Facebook pages, including a description of the element and a list of the corresponding reactive elements and why they are appropriate bonds.  Westerman indicates that 100% of her students have successfully selected an appropriate element for their atom to bond with.

“I firmly believe that students learn content when they construct meaning themselves, when they see a purpose for learning the content or when they make a connection to material,” Westerman said, “Science should not be a string of facts that are memorized.”

This kind of dedication exemplifies what Dake Middle School Principal, Timothy Terranova, wrote about Laura in his recommendation letter. ”Laura is an extremely innovative teacher.  She cultivates a student centered classroom where the children are involved in inquiry based experiences.  Laura is reflective and is constantly refining her instructional practice to create more relevant and pragmatic learning experiences.”

Congratulations to Laura Westerman and the other four finalists: Robert Hollwedel; Andy Maillet; Robin Hill; and Scott Krebbeks.

Visit the Rochester Area College’s Center for Excellence in Math and Science’s website to view finalist’s activities.

Article by RACCEMS’s Graduate Assistant, Katie Monroe


Meet Mr. Andy Maillet – Nominee for 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

September 10, 2010
The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science is pleased to introduce Mr. Andy Maillet – a Math teacher at Greece Athena High School – as a nominee for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award.

 

Mr. Andy Maillet - Nominee for 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

 

This award is given annually to recognize effective, engaging, and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching in grades K-12 in the following New York Counties: Monroe, Cayuga, Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.

Maillet, who is teaches Regents Geometry and Algebra-Geometry Connections courses, was nominated for the award by Mr. Thomas Mariano – Director of Mathematics and Science for Greece Central School District.

Maillet uses a variety of activities throughout instruction to try to keep students engaged and motivated.  For example, Maillet integrates the television show Numb3rs into each unit of study.

Numb3rs a TV series on the CBS network, is about a FBI agent and his mathematically gifted brother who team up and use math to solve crimes.

During the course of the show, students in Maillet’s class are expected to recognize and write down mathematical concepts they recognize.   Maillet, also creates math problems based on each episode and the Regents topic the students are currently studying.  The students work in collaborative groups to answer Maillet’s questions and make connections to the show.

“The integration of these activities has greatly impacted engagement and learning,” Maillet said, “My students have stated that this motivational lesson helps them to pay attention and learn topics that they may have not shown any interest in the past.”

This kind of student engagement exemplifies what  Mariano, wrote about Andy in his nomination letter:

“At a time where preparing students for standardized testing often seems to squeeze out opportunities for taking risks with students on ideas such as the Numb3rs activity, Andy has found ways to focus student learning using these activities on the “need to know” content while at the same time instilling in his students a greater appreciation and confidence in using the power of mathematics to make sense of our world beyond what is seen in a textbook.”

Maillet earned his bachelor and masters degrees in Mathematics and Education at Niagara University, and has been teaching at Greece Athena since 2004. He currently lives in Greece with his wife and twin boys.  Maillet is also involved in Future Educators of America, Ski Club, Student Leaders, and the Martial Arts Club at Athena High School.

Congratulations to Andy Maillet and the other four finalists: Robert Hollwedel, Laura Westerman, Robin Hill, and Scott Krebbeks.

Visit the Rochester Area College’s Center for Excellence in Math and Science’s website to view finalist’s activities.

Article by RACCEMS’s Graduate Assistant Katie Monroe


Bubbles and Bulleyes: STEM Mentors enjoy BBBS Summer Picnic

September 7, 2010
The STEM Mentor Program table and hands-on science experiment at the BBBS Summer Picnic.

The STEM Mentor Program table and hands-on science experiment at the BBBS Summer Picnic.

   

The STEM Mentor Program display at the BBBS Summer Picnic.

Bubbles, bulls-eyes, and burgers were all on the menu for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester’s annual summer picnic on August 7th at Creative Themes Day Camp in Perinton, New York.    

                               This was the first summer where a portion of BBBS Bigs and Littles were also representing a subgroup of the organization called The STEM Mentor Program.      

The STEM Mentor Program is an innovative partnership between   The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science (The Center) and BBBS.    

Bigs and Littles in the program have an interest in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) and commit to at least one STEM activity together per month. Littles in the program are in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.   

Pairs in the program are also invited to large group STEM activities throughout the year – like a visit from the Seneca Park Zoomobile and trip to Springdale Farm.   

The STEM Mentors attending the picnic were excited to share their innovative, new, program with their fellow BBBS Bigs and Littles via a display board about the program, a bubble making station, and conversation.    

Creative Themes – whose owner had a son that was once a BBBS “Big” –  was the perfect venue for the picnic as it is teeming with fun activities in the STEM disciplines.   

A STEM Mentor member learns about "trajectories" via archery!

Bigs and Littles had the opportunity to fish in the catch-and-release pond; shoot arrows in the archery area; climb a ropes tower; canoe; hike; and much more.    

In its 27th year as a day camp, two of the philosophies of Creative Themes focus on the natural world: “The natural setting of the outdoors can produce a stimulating learning environment” and “Children need to experience the sounds and beauty of their natural environment.”   

Our STEM Mentor pairs and the other BBBS pairs attending the picnic certainly experienced those philosophies first hand.   

A BBBS "Little" on the ropes course at Creative Themes.

 

STEM Mentor Program members spend time with the camp owner and his dog.

 
And in case anyone is interested – here are some homemade bubble recipes from http://www.bubbleblowers.com. Each recipe writer seems to think he/she found just the right concoction! What do you think? Have fun testing them out or creating your own!

National Wildlife Federation Bubble Recipe
1/4 cup liquid dishwashing detergent
3/4 cup cold water
5 drops of glycerin (available in pharmacies)   

Majic’s Bib Bubble Recipe
Fills a gallon milk jug:
11 cups Water
4 cups Ajax dish soap (anti-bacterial works best)
1 cup corn syrup
   

Exploratorium Bubble Formula
2/3 cup Joy dishwashing soap
1 gallon water
2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerin (available in pharmacies)   

Cyndi’s Bubble Recipes
1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy)
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of sugar   

Cyndi suggests adding a dab of food coloring for colorful bubbles. Mix the solution and place in a shallow pan (or refill your old bubble containers).
 
Marcia’s Formula
1 cup Ultra Ivory Blue
12 cups water
3/4 tablespoon glycerin (available in pharmacies or chemical supply houses)
Marcia says: “Gently stir the ingredients together and leave the solution in an open container overnight. We believe that this gives the alcohol on the dishwashing soap a chance to evaporate some. In any case, the solution seems to get better with age. If you substitute some other soap for Dawn, you will have to experiment with the rest of the formula… but that’s the fun of science!”
 
Article and photos by Caurie Miner Putnam – STEM Mentor Program Coordinator for the Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science.