A passion for science and a hope to pass that on to their students led two area teachers to apply for a competitive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program – and it paid off.
Kristina Rogers, Lewisburg High School Environment/Ecology/9th grade Science teacher, and Adam Steininger Jr., Midd-West High School Physics/Engineering/Astronomy teacher, were the two teachers selected from the SEDA-Council of Governments’ (SEDA-COG) 11-county region to attend the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) 2018 Summer STEM Programs.
They are two of 26 teachers across 13 Appalachian states selected to attend this unique summer residential opportunity. They will work with science practitioners to develop STEM-related curriculum.
SEDA-COG invited and supported applications from high school teachers and middle and high school students from its 11-county region to attend the ARC/ORNL 2018 Summer STEM Programs.
This all-expenses-paid opportunity allows teachers and students to work with world-class scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. High school students and teachers attend for two weeks, and middle school students attend for one week, both in July.
The programs culminate in a graduation ceremony showcasing participants’ work. Now in their 29th year, the programs often are the first major exposure participating students—many of whom are from Appalachia’s most economically distressed counties—have to applied science and STEM education. The programs include lab time and visits to nearby industries, universities, and museums to experience real-world applications of science, math, and technology.
Bill Seigel, SEDA-COG executive director, congratulated Steininger and Rogers, and thanked them for their dedication to education and students.
“On behalf of the SEDA-COG Board of Directors, we congratulate Ms. Rogers and Mr. Steininger for being selected to attend this excellent program made possible by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Education is about much more than knowledge – it’s having the passion to apply it and to share it with their students. We believe these teachers will return with even more tools to teach and will continue to build a firm STEM foundation for their students,” Seigel said.
Steininger, 28, graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in Physics where he entered the workforce at an engineering firm. While at the firm, he completed his teacher certification from Susquehanna University and started teaching at Midd-West High School where he has taught for three years.
“I enjoyed physics, so I was looking at careers that dealt with a physics background. With teaching, I get to interact with students, and share my passion for physics. I like that every day’s different, and I get to make a meaningful impact on our students’ lives,” he said.
Physics, he explained, is the “best of both worlds” of math and science. “You can apply it and see it in everyday life. It’s everywhere – from vehicles to structures, weather, astronomy, energy, and more,” he said.
His class is working on a rollercoaster project where they construct a model and explain the physics behind it. “Sometimes, I ruin amusement parks for my students. They’ll go and say, ‘Mr. Steininger, all I could think about was the physics behind it,’” he laughed.
Midd-West High School recently won a STEM competition at the Bloomsburg Fair, and are headed to the state STEM competition this month after winning a regional competition in February at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Steininger said the ARC/ORNL Summer STEM Programs fit in perfectly with this momentum.
“I was thoroughly interested in the summer program and, with our administration’s support, applied – and I was lucky enough to be selected. This summer’s opportunity will provide me with more resources and knowledge that I can share with my students that can help them prepare for STEM fields,” Steininger said.
Rogers, 45, is a Muncy native and resident, and has been a science teacher for over 15 years. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Allegheny College and her teaching certification from the University of Pittsburgh. She had worked at Loyalsock Township High School, and started at Lewisburg last year.
“I’m excited to learn more about STEM real world application and bringing some techniques that the kids can investigate and use in the classroom,” Rogers said. She’s also anticipating the experience in science and technology research.
She got into the science field because she has a “curious mind and I enjoy investigating things and learning new things. I like to help students uncover information, and apply that knowledge to any situation by investigating and solving problems,” she said.
The curiosity of life is what drives her to be an “active learner in today’s world and see how things are changing,” she said.
Like Steininger, she hopes to pass on that passion and curiosity so that her students also will seek to be lifelong learners and problem-solvers.
For more information about the program, visit www.arc.gov/summerSTEM.
SEDA-COG is a regional multi-county development agency, which, under the guidance of a public policy board, provides leadership, expertise and services to communities, businesses, institutions and residents. SEDA-COG seeks to enhance growth opportunities in an environmentally sensitive manner while retaining the region’s predominantly rural character. The organization is both a direct service provider and a link to other resources that can be applied to a wide range of community and economic needs. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information about SEDA-COG, visit www.seda-cog.org.