Fall 2019 Newsletter

WVSTA Student Leaders Panel

On Saturday, Oct. 26, First2 Student Leaders Lance Beck, Gabby Broski, Shannon Knowlton and Sarah Starcovic engaged in a 25-minute panel discussion at the West Virginia Science Teachers Association meeting in Charleston, WV. Lance, Gabby and Shannon are first year undergraduate students who were First2 interns at the Fairmont State University/Chemours internship that occurred May 19-31, 2019. All three are First2 Scholars this fall, continuing their Solar Army research for pay, and Shannon is also serving as a First2 Student Director. Sarah, a senior double majoring in chemistry and biology at Fairmont State, was a mentor at the summer internship and was heavily involved in First2 Network during the pilot years. The panel was moderated by Dr. Erica Harvey, Fairmont State University. The students introduced themselves, where they were from, what they were majoring in, and then each one shared about a different aspect of First2 and the benefits they felt as a result: the internship, the industry component at Chemours, the ability to do paid research as a freshman, the role as an ambassador to high schools and other outreach events, and the many networking and connection opportunities the project brings. A Youtube video of part of the event was captured by Allison Moore, a recent Fairmont State chemistry alum, and posted in Shannon’s youtube account:

High School Teachers and First2 Network Undergraduates Brainstorm Improvements Together at WVSTA

Sue Ann Heatherly (Green Bank Observatory), Erica Harvey and Deb Hemler (Fairmont State University), and Kathryn Williamson (WVU) teamed with Shannon Knowlton, Lance Beck, Gabby Broski, Sarah Starcovic, Patricia Best and Makenna Spangler (First2 students from Fairmont State) to offer a hands-on workshop at the WV Science Teachers Association meeting on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Charleston. The one-hour session was titled “Scientific principles applied to improvement: Plan-Do-Study-Act.” Roughly 15 teachers in attendance had the chance to sit down with current undergraduate STEM students and brainstorm small, manageable change ideas for improving student learning and readiness for STEM studies in college. The session introduced the basic principles of improvement science, specifically a branch called Networked Improvement Communities (NIC), and walked participants through setting up a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle to test their change ideas on a rapid timescale in their own local environments.

Women in Technology Conference, Oct. 21, 2019

First2 students Alisha Joseph (Marshall) and Fatima Irfan (WVSU), along with First2 Student Coordinator Samantha Mitchell and First2 Leaders Joanna Burt-Kinderman and Sarah Riley, hosted a First2 table at the Women in Technology conference. Senator Joe Manchin stopped by the table on his way in to give a welcome at the conference (see photo). First2 Steering Committee member Ann Chester gave a compelling luncheon talk about the impact of the HSTA program in the state (see photo). First2 Marketing Co-chair Angela Sundstrom attended the event, tabling for HEPC Division of Science and Research (lunch photo). First2 Capacity co-chair Erica Harvey served on a panel about Research Journeys of Women Scientists in the afternoon. Many excellent connections were made with individuals involved in science and technology education and industry around the state. There is an active group of Women in Cyber at Marshall that has great overlap with First2, and Alisha is connected with them. A representative from NETL, Alicia Dalton-Tingler, made a connection to advertise availability of DOE internships through First2.

Visits with Potential Industry Partners

Julie Serafin (University of Charleston), Sarah Riley (High Rocks Education Corporation), and Erica Harvey (Fairmont State University) held meetings with four different potential partner organizations for First2 Network on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 in Charleston. The group met for an early coffee at Mea Cuppa with Ramin Ettehadieh and Sam Smith, both chemical engineers at Dow, to explore possible avenues for collaboration, particularly in the areas of internships and possible mentoring/skills development for students. Later in the day the team met at the Charleston Area Alliance headquarters with Victoria Russo (New Markets Consultant) and Chris Ferro (Vice President of Economic Development) to discuss mutual interests in workforce and economic development. A visit to the Technology Park allowed afternoon meetings with Dr. Eric King from Matric and with Dr. Kevin DiGregorio of the Chemical Alliance Zone. Dr. King shared about some interesting K12 connections made through the American Chemical Society local section, including interactions with a local chemistry teacher and a Project SEED student, as well as research internships for college students and tour possibilities at Matric. A productive information exchange session was held with Dr. DiGregorio about mutual areas of interest between First2 Network and Chemical Alliance Zone.

The STEM Ecosystems Conference in Cleveland

The STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative hosts bi-annual Community of Practice Convenings (CoP) for all participating STEM Learning Ecosystems. Their goal is to create a collective impact to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for all young people. First2 Network joined last April. First2 representatives Gay Stewart (WVU-First2 Research), Cindy Ziker (SRI-First2 Mentor Backbone), and Cathy Morton, Merge McMillion, and Ann Chester (WVU-HSTA) represented First2 at the STEM Ecosystems Conference in Cleveland, Ohio October 21-23. The STEM Ecosystems Initiative is about 84 invited STEM Ecosystems (such as the First2 Network) and growing. To be invited, an Ecosystem must demonstrate cross-sector collaborations working to deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning. At the conference ideas were shared, partnerships were built and reinforced, and professional development was offered. For instance, workshops on fundraising to sustain our work were provided, and opportunities to work with other organizations to build new programming for West Virginia students were provided. First2 attendees were able to strengthen connections between First2 member organization the West Virginia Department of Education and the Girls Who Code organization, which could provide additional resources for enacting the state K-12 computer science plan. As the initiative rolls off of its initial funding, it is seeking to find those activities that will provide the most gain for its members and has added providing systematic measurement (including big data analytics) tools across all members to its focus. Members can also share resources through the CoP. For example, Igniting the Future: A documentary about STEM2 Hub and its work in northeast Florida was shown at the meeting and is available from the Initiative’s website for use or to consider as a model for replication by other ecosystems.

A breakout group entitled, Learn to Discern, was especially useful and could be adapted as an activity that near peers could use for a community education project. In today’s world of instantaneous news and information bombardment, it is critical that students and adults have the skills necessary to sort valid from invalid information. A second presentation that was especially informative was on ESPORTS and how to use them to reach students, develop a research project, and look for change in behavior. This high interest recreational activity was adapted to take what is occurring and use it engage students while teaching and introducing new concepts. Another presentation was about how to hold a Hack-a-thon. This too was adapted for research and learning and appears to be a wonderful way to challenge students to work with experts to address or hack an issue and provide ways and solutions to help it.

Million Women Mentors Gala

Million Women Mentors (MWM) Awards Gala & Summit

(Oct. 22-23, 2019, Washington, D.C.)

First2 Network members, Michelle Richards-Babb and Betsy Ratcliff, attended the MWM event on Oct. 22-23, 2019. The MWM event was co-sponsored by STEMconnector and is an initiative of STEMconnector. Information on both MWM and STEMconnector is provided below.

Million Women Mentors (MWM; est. 2014):  https://www.millionwomenmentors.com/

About – Original goal was to expose women and girls to STEM and to support them in pursuing STEM careers and leadership opportunities through the power of mentoring. The MWM movement has over 50 corporate sponsors (PepsiCo, Tata Consultancy, Johnson & Johnson, Rockwell Automation) with 80 chapters in more than 40 states and eight countries. Core components include the National Movement, Corporate Sponsorships, States Effort (including Honorary State Leadership by Senators, Governor’s, Lt. Governors), and Nonprofit Partnerships. Next goal is to get ten million women and girls into STEM pathways. State efforts seem to include ongoing efforts by existing organizations that MWM can tap into and add to the messaging and available resources. It looks like anyone can join to either be a mentor or to mentor someone else. Mentoring is for anyone of any age and at any career level. For instance, women beginning a new business are mentored by others who have already gone through the process. NOTE: At present, there is no MWM chapter in seven states including the state of West Virginia. Sheila Boyington is the National States Chair for MWM.

 STEMconnector (est. 2011): https://www.stemconnector.com/

About – STEMconnector is a professional services firm committed to increasing the number of STEM-ready (Science Technology Engineering Math) workers in the global talent pool. We provide a platform to engage leaders in both public and private sectors who collectively are re-envisioning the workforce. Working with pioneering leaders across over 200 organizations, our overall goal is to inform, stimulate and connect leaders with a passion for and vested interest in growing a STEM-ready workforce.

STEMconnector is committed to a networked-approach because we believe that no one sector has a monopoly. This guiding principle is reinforced by the breadth of our network that represents 25+ million students, 3.5+ million educators and 2.6 million STEM jobs. We are excited to work with Heads of Talent Acquisition, Chief Diversity Officers, CIOs and CTOs at leading corporations. We count Presidents of 2-year and 4-year universities as well as Executives of NGOs within our network. Most organizations who try to tackle the STEM gap independently found it difficult to deliver broad impact across a large population. By combining resources, ideas and energy across private and public sectors, members have realized they can collectively drive much more sustainable change and improve their talent pipelines than when they try to tackle it alone.

To view the entire write-up of the Million Women Mentors (MWM) Awards Gala & Summit – including more information on speakers and learning from them, visit the following link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SsX80OdQoTLMy6IAJ9JpHWNHf2iPq7TN0PdrWnhWO6o/edit

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