Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stem Conference thoughts continuted

Amazing how when you attend a conference or have topic brought to your attention how you hear all sorts of things about that topic in the days and weeks that follow. That's what's happened with STEM lately. Seems that everywhere I turn I am reading something else about STEM initiatives and activities ..... some of those links will be in the next post. Today I want to wrap up my thoughts about the conference.

One of the most memorable speakers from the conference was Emma Call. A senior at Baltimore's Polytechnic High School. Initially, it might be surprising to hear that a 12th grade student stands out as a superior presenter at a conference with esteemed professionals presenting. It's not that they weren't good--- as I noted in my previous blog-- but she was really good and she embodied the purpose of our gathering. It was almost a as if she was living proof that if we focus intently on STEM initiatives all students could experience similar successes.

So a little about Ms. Emma Call. Identified as GT and nurtured throughout her middle school career, Ms. Call felt that teachers had really helped foster her growth early on and steer her educationally starting in middle school. Soon after arriving at Poly, Emma started working at "her" lab with a JHU professor as her official mentor (special emphasis on "her" as one of the professors at my lunch table chuckled about how a high school student claimed ownership of the lab--but keep reading--she deserves to feel like she's a vital part of this lab). Her mentoring relationship allowed her to be working directly in the field she was interested in. She mentioned how she would attend the professor's advanced college classes, with only a background in high school biology, but her that brought up more questions and inspired her to learn more (content technically way beyond her high school level). Since then, she has posed her own research questions, written papers and been published in the professional community. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to compete nationally in things like the Intel Talent Search and many others.
She placed 10th in the Intel Talent Search:

Emma Call - Tenth place, $20,000 scholarship
Emma's project focused on the fabrication of 3-D microcubes, which have potential use as novel drug-delivery devices. She plans to move on to Case Western Reserve or Johns Hopkins after graduating from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Also check out the news post on her school's website) She's the 3rd Poly Intel top 10 winner in 3 years, first female-- go Emma!
Her future is bright ---she has excellent choices for her college education and already has a real idea of what college will be like. She has not only been adequately prepared for college, she's lived the experience. Add to that, she's networked across the country with professionals in her field of interest. She's already learned how to write professionally, how to give and take constructive criticism, and how to learn what she needed to know when a gap in knowledge may have existed.

Needless to say, I was very impressed with Emma. Sure it's easy to say she was a gifted student and received lots of extras that most kids don't/won't/ can't get.... but why?? We need a lot to make it happen.... things like:
  • Professionals supporting our schools and students. Take these kids out of the classrooms occasionally to show them how what they are learning will prepare them for their future.
  • Early identification procedures for GT, interest/propensity for success in STEM fields or others---so we can hook them early and inspire them (to be curious perhaps!).
  • Access for all students to interesting, challenging opportunities (some in STEM Fields, some not).
Sometimes I think it's not possible.... but I know that's not true. The more we talk about it, the more we hear from the Emma Call's out there, the more we force the issue with policy leaders and funders ... the more likely we are to make it happen.

1 comment:

Jan Wee said...

Thanks for sharing Emma's story and her experiences as a young leader. It would be awesome to plan a DL session with Emma and young HS leaders around the country. Looking forward to planning some interactive events ahead with my future district and yours.

Jan Wee