December 2017

Making a Difference at Schools

Last summer 23 students from around eastern Oregon gathered at Umatilla High School to spend three days learning about STEM. The students visited the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm, Defrees Ranch, Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University. They showed each other how to fly drones and met with college students who are earning STEM degrees. At the end of the week, they thought about something that they could do to make a difference in their school or community. A few highlights from their accomplishments so far are described here. Please congratulate these students on their efforts when you see them!

Students Rhett Landon and Risa Thompson at Crane Union High School in Harney County have organized an event similar to Dinner with STEM Professionals. Their STEM in the High Desert Dinner is scheduled to take place on January 6th at the fairgrounds in Burns. There will be a keynote speaker along with a variety of STEM professionals sharing about their careers over tri-tip steaks!

Three students at Heppner High School, Caitlyn Scrivner, Charles Cason and Carson Brosnan, in Morrow County are planning to deliver a series of STEM lessons to students at their elementary school in February. They will be learning about the properties of Slime, All about Robots, Designs in our Future and having Fun with Math Games. They are really excited about the project and can’t wait to start teaching!

Students at Pendleton High School in Umatilla County are working on plans to add LEGO robotics teams in their school district. Last August, PHS student, Landon Thornburg, attended at training session through Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program with adult leaders from around the region to learn more about running a LEGO team.

GO-STEM partners from around the region look forward to continuing to develop this program over the coming years and expand opportunities for students to build leadership skills connected to STEM.

NASA Lands in Eastern Oregon

NASA has been showing up in eastern Oregon this year! We were so fortunate to have Norman Chaffee, a retired engineer from NASA make a tour through eastern Oregon connecting with students from four area high schools. Mr. Chaffee visited the UAS Mission Control Center in Umatilla County, La Grande High School in Union County and Baker High School in Baker County. Students were treated to an inspiring man who quietly regaled them with stories from an amazing career building propulsion systems for rockets and leading projects as varied as robotics and biomedical engineering.

Another NASA connection is our very own Adam Moreno, a 1999 graduate of La Grande High School who is now a post-doctoral fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Adam is a current member of the GO-STEM Advisory Board and offers his time in a variety of ways to schools and students in eastern Oregon. If you are interested in supercomputers, forest health, or climate change research go to this link to listen to a NASA interview with Adam. Adam is available to meet with students and teachers about his work and regularly visits the area. Contact GO-STEM if you would like to bring Adam to your school!

For the Love of Math

Some people would not place the words Math and Love in the same sentence but this situation is likely to change in the future. Teachers in eastern Oregon are working hard to change the way we think about math. Through a STEM Innovation grant from Oregon Department of Education, GO-STEM partners will lead a second year of Math in Real Life. This grant gets teachers together on teams to discuss and learn from one another and implement new methods for math teaching and assessment in our secondary classrooms.

Math is no longer the boring or scary subject you might remember.

Not only are teachers helping students make connections to real-life applications but they are also supporting students to see the beauty and creativity that mathematicians have always known. There are many resources being developed to help teachers reduce math anxiety and build a positive culture in the math classroom. If you are interested in helping change the way we think about math, check out these resources below!

Secondary math teachers throughout the region are invited to participate in the Math in Real Life during 2018-2019. Teacher teams are being formed right now with a kick-off event planned for February 2018. Please contact Beccy Nordtvedt at Wallowa ESD for more information about the upcoming series.