Summer 2019 Entries
Happy Hat Travels to the STEM Action Center!
When your school orders a lot of iPad cases the company sends you a gift of Happy Hats. At least that's what our school calls them and each summer the staff take their hats on their adventures and then submit pictures to our principal for a fun slideshow to start the year. I'm am thrilled to say that my hat and I have traveled to the STEM Action Center and am truly loving the chance to see how they support all of us in our STEM efforts. From helping to input companies for potential outreach to researching for grants and sitting in on fiscal planning it has all been an eye opener and made me even more grateful for the support and opportunities Idahoans around the state receive from their work.
- Lynnea Shafter
Wait... Is This the First Day of School?
The first day of school -- personalized name badges, ice-breakers, personality tests, and maybe even some nervous sweating. I occasionally have students complain on that first day, "But we won't do any of this outside of school, Mrs. McGrady," but in fact, my orientation with Saint Alphonsus encompassed all those 'first day' activities and more. My new colleagues decorated my desk with streamers and a personalized welcome. The first hour of orientation was breaking the ice with my table-mates. We completed a "REAL People" personality test followed by a four-corners debrief. Everything I have ever known about the first day of school came true at Saint Alphonsus -- even the nervous sweating.
- Lainey McGrady
Who's your Data?
A little over a week ago I started my externship with Western States Equipment Co., aka Wseco, aka the giant CAT dealership off of I84 in Meridian. I am working with the business insight team to build visualizations and apps to help the company drive towards their vision of making all decisions "data driven". Although the team had some initial questions, ("What even is an externship?"), they quickly got on board, as they have seen first hand how hard it is to hire software developers in Idaho. It is very exciting to imagine my students someday filling an opening like the one that this team currently has.
As with any new job I have ever had, it has been both challenging and exciting to learn new software, skills, team processes, and of course, all of the new acronyms. So far, I have put together reports using power bi and am working through creating an app using powerapps. I look forward to the projects I will work on in the next few weeks, and thinking through how I can bring the lessons learned back to the classroom!
- Maggie Chapman
Chemistry Lesson at Micron...
The first week of my summer externship at Micron included participation in the summer “Chip Camp
”. Each summer, groups of middle school students spend three days exploring various aspects of the semiconductor industry. I was able to accompany a group of 25 students as they built rockets, sharpened their coding skills using EV3 robots and Raspberry Pi's, and toured the Micron facility. Both the students and myself were fascinated by the process used to perform a silver “deposition”. In this activity, we coated the inside of a glass vial with silver.
- Brian Marinelli
Reality Meets Virtual Reality
I'm a music teacher at Summit Elementary School in the Jerome District, but music is not the only thing that I teach in my classroom. I teach robotics, coding, 3D printing and other STEM activities. So, when I was awarded an externship from the Idaho STEM Action Center I was excited because I knew this was going to help me learn more about the STEM industry.
With this externship experience I’ve learned so much that I can take back to my classroom and colleagues. I hope that I can also encourage students through my experience. I hope to also encourage other teachers to implement virtual reality in their classrooms.
Some of the skills I thought I would need are not the ones that this business uses every day. I thought I would need to know how to code, and understand how VR (virtual reality) works. Both were not true. The things I needed to know were how to collaborate, communicate, express ideas, and a willingness to try new things. Yes, knowing how to build in the Blocksmith builder would have been a helpful skill except Blocksmith really wanted someone that had never seen it so they could gauge how each step was being viewed by a beginner. And I fit that part to a tee. Sometimes not knowing anything about what your doing is a good thing. I’m a learner and a teacher and this externship is an amazing adventure in both.
Idaho News Article featuring Penni's Externship
- Penni Aufderheide
A Journey to Create Innovative Outreach
The Micron Foundation, a part of Micron Technologies, has been a supporter of STEM education for decades. From classroom visits to professional development, Micron has worked to bring innovative STEM lessons to students, teachers, schools, and districts throughout the Treasure Valley. As a global player, Micron wants to reach more students, more families, in order to help support STEM initiatives and access. The big question is, "How?" How can the program that has been so well received in Idaho be scaled up to reach beyond our borders? That's where Brian and I come in. Micron has graciously opened their doors to give us a peek behind the curtain. We've been invited to observe Chip Camp, sat in on conferences with other large companies who have outreach programs, and toured the Micron site to see how the inner cogs work all in the hopes we can assist the Foundation in scaling up their STEM outreach program, creating a system that is accessible beyond the Treasure Valley. Cathy and Laurie are leveraging our knowledge about curriculum to build and upgrade lessons and activities that meet the goals and mission of Micron.
I can only speak for myself when I say that this is an amazing, one of a kind experience. I can't wait to see where it takes me!
- Amber McVey
Hello from KBOI Channel 2 News!
It is easy to say there is never a dull moment here at the CBS 2 News Station. From the first week, I have seen every person jump up and help each other meet deadlines. The phones seem to ring throughout the day with tips and information from community members. The morning news team is up before the sun rises and yet always have a smile on their faces. The afternoon and evening teams arrive mid-morning and into the afternoon smiling and ready to go. The sounds of reporters recording their stories and the clicking of keys fervently typing add to the steps of reporters leaving for a breaking story. These first three weeks have shown me how a successful newsroom runs 24/7. Every person is on deck and willing to help at any time. Their kindness towards each other, the public and me set an example for the community. In just three weeks, I have learned how to produce a televised news broadcast, learn a new genre of writing, post stories to the web, interview community members, edit videos and learn about the complex field of meteorology. I am excited to work with this team and cannot wait to learn more about broadcasting and journalism from all of them.
- Colleen Lewis
Research, Research, Research!
Who would have known that so much research goes into public relations? It seems silly not to have realized this in retrospect, but people working in communications need to have backgrounds and expertise in a lot of different areas. My first few weeks or so at a PR firm in Downtown Boise has been a blur. I’ve learned about things I never knew existed and things I never would have considered learning, but here we are. I read an entire book over the course of two days, have scanned and read dozens of articles and web pages, and even went to a press event to see how the press impacts the work done here. My observations have also allowed me to see how the people who work here are constantly communicating with clients, sources, and one another; they’re continually expanding their knowledge to serve clients better. I’ve taken away more in the last 10 days than I could have ever learned while researching PR online or out of the office. This experience has confirmed to me that I learn by doing, and it’s helping me remember that my students do too!
A little side note, I can’t believe how quiet it is here… I’m pretty out of the loop when it comes to working in areas that aren’t filled with 30+ 12 year-olds; I can get so much done in one day!
- Hailey Bull
Q: When Will I Ever Use This?
A: With Talent Acquisition, Of Course!
As a mathematics teacher I am often posed with the notorious question: “When will I ever use this outside of school?” Typically, my answer includes the terms ‘problem-solving’ and ‘critical thinking skills.’ But sometimes, students are still
not satisfied. This week at Saint Alphonsus I was excited to help a colleague find a more efficient way to calculate percent change. Often within Talent Acquisition, job candidates ask about pay rates. These candidates want to learn what their pay increase will be working at Saint Alphonsus. Rather than providing a dollar rate (you will earn $1.23 more per hour) giving a percent increase allows the candidate more flexibility to calculate their weekly and monthly gross income.
- Lainey McGrady
Making connections with students in Idaho
As part of its STEM outreach program, the Micron Foundation hosts students from ISAS (Idaho Space and Aerospace Scholars). They provide them with a tour of the facility, information on college degrees and courses, and introductions to current Micron employees and interns. Students are encouraged to explore and ask questions while learning about all of the interesting processes, materials, and machinery that Micron employs to produce its products. Students also hear about the various paths individuals took to become engineers, chemists, and more. As an extern from the Idaho STEM Action Center, I was invited to participate throughout the day, and it was fascinating. As a community partner, Micron works to build STEM access to students in a variety of ways. They take pride in being a major player in the global memory market and in being a lead company in Idaho’s economy. They also take pride in giving back through educational outreach, helping students realize their possibilities. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in their efforts.
- Amber McVey
Adaptation and Evolution in the Workplace
While I teach adaptation in my classroom, I never thought about how it could apply to something besides the change of a species over time. I watch the people around me adapt to the circumstances of their clients in ways I never would have thought possible. When I asked about educational backgrounds, I expected to hear everyone say, “Business!” or “Marketing!” or “Accounting!”, but I was wrong. There are many different backgrounds in this building. While there is one employee with an education in communications and public relations, the others focused on poly sci., history, Spanish, education, and graphic design while in school. This has been powerful, and I can’t wait to bring these details back to my classroom. I have an opportunity to share this experience with my students and show them that, just because they might go to school for one thing, that doesn’t mean that they will be trapped in that career for their entire lives or limited by their experiences. College and career training gives kids the opportunity to go anywhere and do just about anything they want to! Plus, the people in this facility have no problem becoming chameleons in the work that they do. Does a client need help with X, Y, and Z? Then these people are going to learn about X, Y, and Z! Their backgrounds and work ethic have given them the ability to adapt in the workforce; isn’t that what I want my students to be able to do as well?
- Hailey Bull
iSTEM is a Blast!
This week I had the privilege of being able to help out at CWI iSTEM. It was truly encouraging to see so many teachers from around the state participating for four days in STEM professional development. Rockets, Hover Craft, Fossils, Flames and Butterflies-Oh My! The enthusiasm was contagious and I know many a great PBL and lesson plan are ready to go for Fall.
- Lynnea Shafter
Where We Learn More than Mathematics
As students stroll into my mathematics classroom for 47 minutes each day they anticipate learning topics including imaginary numbers, exponential functions, logarithms, etc. Most modern classrooms (hopefully) also integrate ‘soft-skills’ into each lesson. I imagine that collaboration, communication, and organization are commonly taught soft-skills. Fortunately, my externship has given me the perfect platform to learn which soft-skills are necessary to succeed in the workforce. I was delighted to dive deep into the data and analyze the results I collected from my Saint Alphonsus colleagues. While I already integrate skills like attention-to-detail, organization, and flexibility, other skills surfaced that had never occurred to me. Because of this externship exercise, I plan to include empathy, customer-service, willingness, and stress-management into my lesson planning to better equip my students for future success.
- Lainey McGrady
Write, Revise, Repeat!
As a Biology teacher, I love lab days! I don’t love reading lab reports quite as much, but I do enjoy seeing my students grow in their technical lab report skills over the year! I mark up their first lab reports with many comments; students can be a little shocked when they see their feedback, but most of them use the feedback to significantly improve their writing. I haven’t been on the receiving end of this type of feedback for quite a while...until this summer! My project is writing scripts for tutorial videos of tools that Idaho Power checks out to clients. I chose to start with light meters, researched them extensively, and turned in my first draft. It came back covered in red comments such as “insert difference between lux and foot-candle” and “talk about daylight zones.” Hours of research and three drafts later, we almost have the first set of videos ready to film! Not only have I learned way more than I expected about measuring brightness, but I also have a new empathy for my students as they read my feedback and rewrite lab reports. I’m keeping all of my marked-up video script drafts to show my students before they look at the grade and comments on their first lab report in the fall. It’s ok to not get everything right the first time!
- Carissa Hale
What is anodizing anyway?
While working with Sapphire Metal Finishing in Caldwell, I’ve learned so much about the process of anodizing aluminum. Anodizing is an electro-chemical process that keeps aluminum from rusting or corroding, ultimately making it more durable. Although it’s been difficult at times to see where anodizing fits into “real life,” (as my students would say), you’ll find anodized aluminum from the carabiner on your keychain to your Apple Watch. While Sapphire works primarily with components of engines and firearms, we’ve processed everything from bottle openers to a piece of a satellite this summer!
I’m excited to take this work back to my classroom in the fall, and will definitely use the satellite as an example to my students that although our work in the classroom sometimes feels pointless, it will have big impacts later in life.
- Jessie Hearn
The Micron Foundation works with entities throughout Idaho to increase children’s access to STEM materials, lessons, and activities. I have been included in several of these efforts, from CHIP camp to classroom lessons, it has been amazing to see. Over the last few weeks, my supervisor has been working on setting up volunteers, materials, scheduling, and much more to support our local libraries’ “Book and a Bite” program. We brainstormed activities that could be set up in a park with no access to electricity and limited access to other items, such as water. In the end, chromatography was chosen as a focus activity. It is a process that is heavily used at Micron in the fabrication process of memory chips on wafers. We were able to build a hands-on activity that hundreds of children and their families could engage in as well as create a hand-out for them to take home in order to continue exploring at home. Making sure students not only had access to the activity, but also the information behind it was a must. The Micron Foundation wants to make sure the interactions go beyond “fun”, using excitement to build interest and curiosity and providing real-world, accessible information simultaneously. They work hard to show students “the man behind the curtain” – the reason things happen and how they can take part in the magic. The Micron Foundation has a laser focus on building children’s interest in STEM in order to positively affect their futures.
- Amber McVey
App Development at Western States Equipment
My externship at Western States Equipment has given me an opportunity to practice the creative and technical skills that I teach in my computer science classes during the school year. I have spent the last few weeks developing apps that the company can use to help streamline internal work processes. In this "real world" project, there is no assessment rubric, no example project, and only vague project requirements. My ability to develop a useful project has been heavily dependent on collaboration with my coworkers, research on google, a little creativity, and lots of trail and error. Each project has gone through multiple iterations based on feedback and testing, and the final products are different than what my coworkers may have created, but no more or less "correct". I look forward to getting my students to complete similar projects this upcoming year! Other highlights at my externship include helping the team interview for a job opening, troubleshooting mind boggling "bugs" with coworkers, taking luxurious hour long lunch breaks, brainstorming student projects, and even taking a break to watch some soccer. I continue to look forward to work, and am extremely grateful to get this STEM externship opportunity.
- Maggie Chapman
“Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending.” — Kermit the Frog
My own ending to my externship at the STEM Action Center is coming to a close but I’m taking this experience and using it as the next chapter in my teaching career. After spending the past 20+ years in the classroom it was great to go back into the business workplace and to remember why I do what I do. I teach to ultimately prepare my students for the world outside our doors. Fortunately, as an extern here you just never know what’s around the corner to experience and today I had the pleasure of visiting Idaho Public Television. We toured the facilities, met producers, education experts and technical advisors as we waited to watch how a narrator lends their voice to scripts written by STEM AC employees for videos created by the STEM AC’s graphic designer. The amount of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity that goes into small three-minute videos is truly impressive and it’s those 21st
century skills that I can reference for my students and use to discuss how they apply in local career opportunities.
- Lynnea Shafter
I have to say, This Externship ROCKS!
Hi, my name is Heidi Maimer and I am an extern at University of Idaho, Center for Ecohydraulics Research. It is a graduate education and research program dedicated to studying the links between physical processes and aquatic ecosystems. The environment, water, and natural resources are a main focus at the center.
I am currently working with 3 PhD professionals that are doing research on how grain-size distribution, elevation and sorting effects variability in near-bed river velocities. I have spent most of my hours collecting data in the field. The process is repetitious, time consuming and at times physically draining, but I love a challenge.
Next week when we go back out into the field for three days I am going to retire my Nike flip flops and show up with Chaco river shoes and a 5 person Marmot tent and truly rock this experience.
- Heidi Maimer
How far can they reach?
Whew! The last week has been busy. I have been reviewing and researching information to refresh aspects of the Micron Foundations STEM outreach program, sitting in on internship meetings with engineers, project managers, and global materials experts, touring the facility, and much more. I would have to say my favorite part is helping connect teachers who need classroom materials with items from Micron that meet those needs. In addition to providing STEM outreach, the Micron Foundation also works to ensure that nothing at Micron goes to waste. This means that, as Micron replaces old computers with new ones or refurbishes areas, the Micron Foundation acts as a go-between to identify districts and classrooms that would benefit from the items. They reach out to find spaces that are in need, and then they fill that need. Old computers and their components are compiled and donated to Computers for Kids, office materials are donated to districts and classrooms, and a vast amount of personal time is donated worldwide to a variety of projects.
- Amber McVey
It’s All About Experiences!
The Idaho National Laboratory is dedicated to educational outreach statewide. The K-12 STEM Educational Program Team at the INL works hard to inspire and excite children about STEM. They award hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants along with providing hands-on learning activities for many events. I get to work with the dedicated professionals behind the scenes everyday and look forward to finding and creating engineering activities for students throughout Idaho.
We all have teachers, mentors, coaches we remember who inspired us to strive for greatness. We don’t remember the worksheets or assessments, but we do remember the way they made us feel and the silly things they did. We remember the experiences they gave us. Experiences change the way we see, feel, think, and react. Traveling to Colorado to attend Science in the Rockies STEM Experience with Steve Spangler has been a highlight of this externship. Steve is all about creating experiences, showing how fun science and STEM can be. His goal is to provide experiences that leaving you say “best day ever”. For three days, Steve shared exciting demonstrations, included us in hands-on activities, and showed us some clever magic tricks to use in the classroom. You could tell what his passion was when you walked into the conference room.
- Alaysha Whitworth, Middle School STEM Teacher
What a welcoming crew!
What an awesome experience so far! I have been working with the St. Luke’s compensation department and have had a great time learning the “world of HR.” I started in mid-June and have been working ever since. I have been able to participate with the team from the beginning and have worked with them on a lot of different tasks. From the beginning I was trusted to work on tasks independently. I think that this has been a great group to work with and they were very accepting when I came into their office. Whenever I had struggles, anyone I went to was willing to answer questions and they have been very thankful for the work that I have accomplished!
- Tim Whipple
VR, AR, and Idaho, oh my!
Through my externship with the Micron Foundation, I got the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the Idaho Virtual Reality Council. Whew, what an informative, exciting opportunity! I was able to interact and network with individuals who are interested in bringing VR and AR to education at all levels. I learned how to implement a fully immersive VR/AR program into my classroom, bringing devices and high-level materials to all students in authentic ways. For VR in my classroom, I have been using VR cardboards, Aurasma, a few limited apps, and 360 videos on YouTube. At the event, I was able to interact with a product that is more durable and student friendly than the VR cardboards I had been using. I got to see the process researchers have gone through to make VR/AR accessible to the public. Best of all, I learned about Google Expedition, an app that is free and super easy to use. This app allows me to explore a variety of areas and has materials connecting with curriculum on different levels. I was so excited, I immediately got on the phone and began sharing my new-found knowledge. I have connected my grade level team, associates from other schools, and peers from other districts to this app in the last few days. I hope to connect even more as the days go by. And now, by reading this, I challenge you to explore Google Expedition, 360 videos on YouTube, and any other materials that will bring VR/AR to your students. Challenge accepted? I sure do hope so!
- Amber McVey
Live from KBOI Channel 2 News
My time at the news station is rapidly coming to an end as I begin to shift into gear for the upcoming school year. To tie in everything I have been learning about, I have been given the opportunity to do a news story featuring the Externship program. It will be aired Monday, July 29th. I am going to do interviews, edit video footage and report on what has made this program unique for the teachers and businesses involved. I am so excited to apply my learning over the past two months to create a story that the public will see. My hope is to inspire more educators to apply for future opportunities with Idaho STEM Action Center, as well as to create awareness of what educators actively do to stay informed of our changing world in order to best meet the needs of our students.
- Colleen Lewis
Oh, The Places You'll Go!
"Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers many leak. Oh! the places you'll go!" Dr. Seuss
From the Boise River to the Payette, to the Salmon River and on to Warm Springs and Trail Creek in Sun Valley…wow it has been a great summer. Thank you STEM Action Center for the opportunity to work with such great local scientists in the field of Fluvial Geomorphology. I have learned that we have a Stream Simulator in downtown Boise. Yes…an indoor stream. I got to work on a Patch Topography field study, where we went out into the field and measured boulders, cobbles and pebbles. I also got to work on the Trail Creek and Warm Springs project, where we downloaded data from sensors placed in the river last November. The sensors kept track of the sediment temperature over time. I also got to be a part of the Outreach program and met with Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars(ISAS) from around the state.
In addition to all of the cool Science I have learned, I have learned how to put on waiters, and balance on slippery rocks. I have also gotten over my fear of getting attacked by a bear in the middle of the night. I have met some really great people and exchanged many stories. This externship has been an invaluable experience for me. I feel rejuvenated and excited to go back into the classroom and share what I have learned. After teaching for 20 years, this is what I needed to rekindle my excitement about teaching and a great reminder of how awesome of a profession Education is. Thank you STEM Action Center!
- Heidi Maimer
Last Friday was my final day for the externship, and I was as nervous as the first day of school! It was filming day! I had worked for weeks on writing tutorial video scripts for tools, planning scenes and images, and practicing my lines. But even with all my preparation, the camera intimidates me, and a thousand anxious thoughts were running through my mind.
We did the filming in a library that has been working with Idaho Power and the Integrated Design Lab to do diagnostic tests and determine why they have been using more energy than expected. So our set of videos have a two-part purpose: demonstrate how to use the tools, and model their use in an authentic setting.
What empowered me to overcome my anxiety on filming day? An amazing team of people! The videography team from Idaho Power were professional with their guidance and patience when I needed to do a couple of takes of some scenes. A friend from the Integrated Design Lab held my cue cards and encouraged my progress. At the end of the day, it was a fun experience, and I look forward to seeing the finished product! Now on to the first day of school nerves and excitement!
- Carissa Hale
The Scientific Method in Action
On the 2nd day of my externship experience at Vista Outdoors/CCI/Speer in Lewiston Idaho I was asked to participate in a 22 LR function shoot. The purpose of the shoot was to test 22 LR ammunition to make sure that it functioned correctly in 6 shot revolvers. Because the company wants to ensure that every round functions safely and accurately it was statistically necessary to test 10,000 rounds. At the end of the day when the gun smoke cleared we had no issues to report. Ongoing testing for function and accuracy is something that the company is dedicated to on a daily basis as part of the manufacturing process. This was just one of many opportunities that I had throughout my 5 week externship at Vista Outdoors to put the scientific method into action. I am grateful for this unique learning experience and hope that it continues in the future.
- Matthew Bruns