SIDNEY — The Ohio Academy of Science has selected 44 Ohio schools and 401 teachers to receive Governor’s Thomas Edison Awards for Excellence in STEM Education for their accomplishments during the 2014-2015 school year. On that list for the 28th consecutive year is Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney.
Each school receives a special Governor’s Award certificate, and each teacher receives a complementary membership to The Ohio Academy of Science. Science teachers from Lehman Catholic who are receiving the award are Tracy Hall, Leah Bertke and Sister Ginny Scherer. Under the leadership of Scherer, the Lehman Catholic Science Department has received the Governor’s Award every year since 1988.
Lehman Catholic joins four other schools from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati in receiving the award. The others are McNicholas High School in Cincinnati, Bishop Leibold Middle School in Dayton, Carroll High School in Dayton, and St. Peter Middle School in Huber Heights.
The Ohio Academy of Science is the leading organization in Ohio dedicated to fostering curiosity, discovery, and innovation among Ohio’s students. The Academy aims to unite all who value education, science, engineering, technology, and their applications to benefit society.
The Ohio Academy of Science initiated this educational partnership program in cooperation with The Ohio Third Frontier, within the Ohio Development Services Agency to recognize schools and teachers who stimulate student scientific and technological research and extend STEM education opportunities beyond traditional classroom activities. The Technology Division of The Ohio Development Services Agency has supported this program since 1985 by grants to The Ohio Academy of Science.
“Schools and teachers that are awarded the Thomas Edison Award for Excellence continue to provide their students with hands-on education opportunities,” said Stephen McConoughey, PhD, the Academy’s CEO. “Science is a subject and process that is best learned by doing. These schools and their teachers are finding new, creative ways to engage the students above and beyond the traditional methods. These innovative techniques will benefit the students as these teachers are striving to develop our next generation of scientists for Ohio and the country.”
To receive the award, schools must conduct a local science fair with 20 or more students; qualify one or more of these students for one of the Academy’s 16 district science days; have students participate in at least one more youth science opportunity beyond the classroom such as State Science Day, visits to museums, mentorship programs and extended field trips; and convince external professionals from business and industry, government and academia employers how and to what extent the school’s program met the Academy’s definition of STEM education.
Eighteen professionals – broadly representing STEM employers from business and industry, government and academia – evaluated the applications in a blind review process.
“We annually go above and beyond the scope of the criteria for the award,” said Scherer, chair of the Lehman Science Department. “Besides our annual science fair, we have a variety of extracurricular science experiences for our students, including competitive teams for Science Olympiad, TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science), the Ohio Energy Project, and Envirothon.
“Not only do we have the extracurricular science experiences, but our curriculum includes AP and College Credit science classes. Our science program is very broad and essentially we do it all,” said Scherer. “None of this happens without a lot of caring teachers and volunteers. Many people from the community and Lehman Alumni are also involved in Lehman science activities, serving as coaches for the Science Olympiad team and helping to judge projects at the school science fair.”
STEM education is both the mastery and integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for all PreK-12 students. It incorporates scientific inquiry and technological design through student-focused, project-based curricula to develop skills of communication, teamwork/collaboration, creativity/innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving.
In August, Lehman Catholic announced a new initiative for increased emphasis on STEMMM education in its curriculum, adding medicine and manufacturing to the mix of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In keeping with new trends in career readiness education, several upstairs classrooms at Lehman will be converted into a STEMMM center where students will study practical applications and career opportunities in these fields.
Since many of the world’s leading manufacturing industries are located in the Sidney area, Lehman has formulated plans to partner financially with local companies to complete the STEMMM wing on campus and subsequently use these partnerships to provide internships, career exploration, and hands-on education. Enhanced curriculum offerings and summer STEMMM camps for all grade levels made possible by the new center will help Lehman Catholic continue to be a leader in educating quality candidates for the future workforce of West Central Ohio.