Expanding the Classroom: CJ STEMM

Every day, CJ teachers are finding ways to expand the classroom for the benefit of students and colleagues. Through class trips, co-curricular competitions and clubs, guest presentations, professional development opportunities and more, faculty and staff are broadening horizons and pushing boundaries on the educational experience.

Check out what these CJ STEMM / Project Lead the Way faculty members are doing:

The CJ STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) program is designed to pair classroom learning with hands-on collaboration from area professionals, businesses, colleges and universities. The program is shepherded by part-time CJ STEMM Coordinator Meg Draeger and a team of Advisory Board members who have partnered with more than 30 local institutions.

While her official position is “part-time,” Mrs. Draeger stays busy organizing on- and off-campus co-curricular opportunities that are open to all CJ students. Each year, she has a hand in planning field trips, worksite visits, internships and mentorships, community events, homeroom presentations (including the popular CJ STEMM Idol Speaker Series) and summer camps for area youth.

This school year, Mrs. Draeger increased STEMM programming to include two new club offerings: The Girls in STEMM Club, open to current female students in grades 9-12, and the MathCounts club, open to area 7th and 8th graders. On March 14, MathCounts hosted a “Pi Day” (3.14) celebration in the cafeteria for about 20 children from area grade schools who enjoyed learning with apple pie and peach cobbler dessert.

Mrs. Draeger has also been able to offer a new STEMM ministry and service R.E.A.C.H. volunteer site this school year thanks partly to a $500 Innovative Teaching / STEM Grant she won from the Catholic Schools Office. The after-school project, Toys for God’s Kids, allows students to assemble wooden toy cars that are donated to children around the world. (Belize mission trip participants will actually deliver some of the toy cars to children there in late June.) Mrs. Draeger will be recognized and formally receive her grant certificate at the Teacher Recognition Banquet on May 7 at Kettering’s Presidential Banquet Center.

In January, Andy Helms was selected to become a “Master Teacher” for the Principles of Engineering course by Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Master Teachers are appointed to provide the required training to help certify fellow educators who wish to teach PLTW courses. Mr. Helms will complete an apprenticeship for the 2013-14 school year before offering his services at summer Core Training seminars, which are hosted by affiliated colleges and universities. Currently, all CJ PLTW faculty double as certified Master Teachers for either engineering or biomedical sciences courses.

As CJ’s engineering instructor, Mr. Helms recently took a group of students to compete in the DRMA XtremeBots spring competition hosted at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center. The team entered two bots, ‘Nicolas’ and ‘Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto,’ into battle on March 23 and bot ‘Nicolas’ advanced to the "sweet 16" round! Next up, Mr. Helms and Mrs. Draeger will accompany 18 PLTW engineering students on a field trip to Motoman Robotics in honor of National Robotics Week on Tuesday, April 9.

Taking advantage of an opportunity to put an expert in front of her classes, biomedical sciences teacher Amy O’Loughlin invited Dr. Jim Olson, Ph.D., to speak with her students before and after his March 19 STEMM Idol Speaker presentation. Dr. Olson, research director at the the Wright State University School of Medicine, allowed students to touch and hold real human brains. He also shared some unique brain statistics and facts compiled by a fellow neuroscientist at Wake Forest University.

By the day’s end, Dr. Olson presented to nearly 140 CJ students including 75 in Mrs. O’Loughlin’s Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, and anatomy and physiology classes! Four of those students took him up on an invitation to visit his WSU laboratory and will job shadow Dr. Olson in April.

Biology teacher, PLTW instructor and Dayton Regional STEM Center Fellow Amanda Ooten hosted a STEM Workshop for K-12 Catholic school teachers on Saturday, March 23 at CJ. Fourteen educators, representing eight different schools and varying grades and subjects, joined Mrs. Ooten in the library to take part in hands-on demonstrations and share ideas for innovative, inquiry-based teaching techniques.

Earlier this school year, Mrs. Ooten virtually opened up her classroom to students and teachers everywhere by working with TED-Ed to create a customized video lesson on photosynthesis. TED-Ed is an up-and-coming non-profit organization aimed at providing engaging educational content for users through the use of technology and its Web site, ed.ted.com.

“The simple story of photosynthesis and food” is a 4-minute, animated YouTube video voiced and taught by Mrs. Ooten. View her lesson below or follow Mrs. Ooten on Twitter (@EaglesBiology) to watch how she uses the “flipped classroom” model of teaching on a regular basis!