Oklahoma Teacher Recognized as Lead Advocate in National STEM Program for Underrepresented Students
KOKH - October 18, 2023 6:18 am
HOBART, OKLAHOMA — Educators from across the country are receiving a stipend to help guide students in scientific research, including one teacher here in Oklahoma.
Teachers from all around the US are being recognized by the Society for Science, a national non-profit that is focused on expanding STEM.
“There is a shortage of STEM professionals in the world, especially in the United States, and then also of professionals who are from race or ethnicities that have been underrepresented in the past,” said Emily Freeland, with Society for Science.
100 educators were chosen for their advocacy program, which works with students from underrepresented groups and low-income households.
“It focuses on building educator capacity so that they can expand access to STEM research competitions for groups of students that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM,” Freeland said.
One Oklahoma teacher is recognized for the second year in a row, Heather Sims from Hobart High School is now a lead advocate in the program, working with other teachers from rural communities around the country,
“As a rural teacher, I don’t have a professional learning team, like I essentially am the science department,” said Sims. “So it’s very valuable to have other teachers to talk to about, like how to keep kids on schedule, how to increase the rigor of their projects, it’s a very invaluable resource.”
Sims received a $5,000 stipend from the non-profit.
“I use it personally to cover my time because it’s a significant time commitment,” Sims said. “So honestly last year without being in this program without getting a stipend for it…I probably wouldn’t have had us compete in the International Science Engineering Fair, just because it was a big job to get 30 students all the paperwork done, it took dozens of hours probably.”
Sims says giving her students the opportunity to compete in the International Science Engineering Fair is very valuable.
“I see a clear difference in both the level of learning and the level of engagement,” she said. “When they’re doing original research, it really taps into those problem-solving skills that are going to serve them in University and beyond.”