CHEYENNE - The 2015-16 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Educators of the Year were honored at the 2016 Roadmap to STEM Conference in Rock Springs August 1.
Over a dozen nominations were submitted and reviewed by a selection committee at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). Guy Jackson, supervisor of the WDE Career Technical Education Section, says the WDE recognizes exemplary STEM educators from elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels of education each year.
“Teachers instill inspiration and wonder in their students everyday whether a STEM teacher, language arts teacher, art teacher or career technical education teacher,” said Jackson. “We recognize and thank all these educators for what they do and the time they invest in developing their students for our future.”
Christine Horsen, a first grade teacher at Meeteetse Schools was named STEM Elementary Educator of the Year.
Mrs. Horsen combines her knowledge of the Big Horn Basin’s rich geologic resources to incorporate STEM into the Meeteetse Elementary Summer School Program. Last summer, students built robots and went on a field trip to Red Lake to deploy them, learning about fossils and rock formations. This year, students experienced an archeological dig on school grounds, then analyzed and discussed their findings.
“I truly believe that you’ve got to help kids love learning and I think it’s essential in the lower grades,” said Mrs. Horsen. “STEM education allows children to be curious. It brings out that excitement in learning, and it’s vital.”
Students use their iPads in Mrs. Horsen's class to search the internet for resources to use in her brown bag challenges and science days. Last year, every student produced a personally relevant invention to solve a real world problem.
In order to entice girls to STEM, Mrs. Horsen started GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) for all elementary girls in the school. She has incorporated many experiments, and has also brought many scientists in the community to the school to talk about their careers.
“The mantra in Meeteetse is, ‘We want students to think and act like scientists’ and Christine starts that in the first grade,” said Jay Curtis, Superintendent of Park County School District #16. “Her style, her flair, and her excitement is something that truly impacts the students in her class and they are excited to learn because she is excited to teach.”