Friday, March 1, 2024

Tabb Teacher Receives STEM Fellowship

YCSD_SealTabb Middle School’s Theresa Guthrie was selected as one of 40 teachers nationwide to participate in the Siemens Teachers as Researchers fellowship program.

The program was held June 8 through 20 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and partners STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — educators who teach sixth through 12th grades with research scientists to conduct research and exchange educational techniques.

Guthrie, who teaches physical science at Tabb, said the experience was challenging for herself and the other fellows.

“It was daunting, overwhelming, invigorating,” Guthrie said. “I was flabbergasted by how much we were expected to do and by how much fun we had.”

Guthrie was selected to the program after a competitive application process that included major essays, recommendations from principals and peers, and a video on her use of STEM in the classroom.

Once the program began, Guthrie and the other fellows completed daily schedules of research, facility tours and seminars. Guthrie said the goal of the different activities was to provide new approaches to teaching STEM in the classroom.

During their time at Oak Ridge, the fellows also participated in ongoing projects with scientists. Guthrie worked with Dr. Mitch Doktycz in a study on Plant-Microbial Interfaces, the interactions between plants, microbes and their environment.

“At first, I was disappointed—what’s exciting about plants?” Guthrie said. “But I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it.”

Guthrie said her experience in the program would be a positive influence on her interactions with her students at Tabb. Incorporating her work with Plant-Microbial Interfaces, Guthrie said she is planning an activity for her students to collect local plants and inspect the microbes found on them.

Guthrie also said she hoped to utilize her new relationships with international educators to help her students form educational connections across continents.

According to Guthrie, her next goal is to put what she learned during the program into action. One of the requirements of the fellowship, Guthrie said, was to “pay it forward.” To do so, Guthrie said she has decided to have her class participate in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a sustainability challenge for K-12 students sponsored by the Siemens Foundation.

By participating in the challenge, Guthrie would mentor groups of two to four students from her class as they identified local environmental issues and proposed solutions. Guthrie said the challenge would give her students “empowered ownership” of solving a problem that affects their community.

“The power is in the hands of the kids,” Guthrie said.

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