Research Capabilities Statement

Ohio State University Extension

Research Capabilities | Community Development, Pickaway County

Figure 1. OSU Extension program areas: 4-H Youth Development, Agricultural and Natural Resources, and Family and Consumer Science images by OSU Extensions retrieved from: https://extension.osu.edu/. Community Development’s STEM Club Program image by Meghan Thoreau.

SUMMARY

Ohio State University Extension is the community-based outreach unit of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State. Extension “empowers through education,” we help Ohioans build better lives, businesses, and communities.

OUR VISION Ohioans have the knowledge and resources they need to thrive. OUR MISION We create opportunities for people to explore how science-based knowledge can improve social, economic, and environmental conditions.

OSU Extension delivers knowledge from Ohio State to all 88 counties in Ohio. We work with people where they live to strengthen their own lives and communities. Extension connects with people in all stages of life – from young to older adults – from families to K-12 schools, farmers, business and industry leaders, community leaders, and elected officials.

Community Development in Pickaway County has a unique programming focus geared towards STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.) My work, as an Education Educator, is informed by a collaborative team of Extension professionals, volunteers, campus collaborators, and community partners that provide leadership for the development, production, and evaluation of educational programs and applied research to foster informal STEM educational opportunities that increase career attainment in STEM fields. My Extension outreach and programming integrates new technologies, hands-on learning experiences, career exploration, and emphasize on the 21st Century skill set.

CAPABILITIES

  • Focus on critical economic, environmental, leadership, youth, and family issues.
  • Engage people in lifelong learning.
  • Apply knowledge/practical research to the diverse needs/interests of Ohioans in rural, suburban, and urban communities.
  • Extend resources of The Ohio State University.
  • Recruit/develop volunteers to multiply Extension’s efforts while developing their leadership potential.
  • Enhance teamwork through networking and connectedness.
  • Link youth, family, and community needs to scholars in Ohio and nationwide.
  • Teach with cutting-edge strategies using new technologies and approaches.

DIFFERENTIATORS

Research projects that require real-world STEM education and instruction, including areas of applied science, engineering, computer science, workforce development, and other areas of instructional methods and delivery.

We offer hands-on programmings such as drone racing, intro to coding, simple circuitry, aerospace and flight simulators, intro astronomy, simple motors and robotics, renewable energy, and more.

We bridge the gap between science and the community, with instruction in STEM and science concepts across community members of all ages, including community members typically underrepresented in research. We utilize relationships across the community to deliver impact in formal and informal learning environments.

AREAS OF PROGRAMMING, RESEARCH & SCHOLARLY INTERESTS

Programming

  • Scholastic Drone Racing (video)
  • K-12 Teacher/Business Tours
  • Elementary STEM Club Program
  • Student Career Exploration Tours
  • Problem-based Learning Initiatives
  • Pickaway County Library Youth STEM Club (video)
  • Summer STEM Camp
  • Real-Money, Real World
  • 21st Century Skill Set and STEM Careers
  • Extra Mile
  • Coding Club & App Development
  • Community and Scholarly Outreach

Research & Scholarly Interest

I’m interested in building new collaborations among practitioners, STEM researchers, learning researchers, and evaluators that are interested in developing and/or studying models in Pickaway County related to informal STEM education. With an additional focus on professional development or professional development resources related to informal K-12 STEM learning; and developing or supporting collaborations, connections, and professional networks within and across sectors informal STEM education and beyond.

My outreach and programming focus on promoting science and engineering education, especially programming that engages professionals and youth from populations typically underrepresented in the STEM fields. I’m interested in advancing my programmatic development with researchers focused on STEM learning outcomes, organizational capacity, and mechanisms for expanding programming and access to STEM resources and experiences. Some challenges I have experienced are a poor understanding of informal STEM challenges and opportunities in rural communities. Rural school districts face shortfalls and hardships, fiscal pressures, school consolidation, population loss, low capacity of the workforce, diversity of the workforce, tech workforce, and a general lack of knowledge about learning technologies and effective STEM delivery.

I’m seeking out ways to: increase informal STEM offerings in rural and agricultural communities; provide support and leadership for expansion of STEM programs (e.g. existing scholastic drone racing program); provide information and resources for rural communities and schools to deliver STEM programs; and better academic understanding of informal STEM opportunities in rural communities.

CURRENT PARTNERS & CLIENTELE

I’m tasked with providing leadership and programming to meet the current and future needs related to STEM education and career development for K-12 youth and educators. I work in conjunction with the Pickaway County Educational Service Center, Pickaway WORKS, school district curriculum directors, K-12 teachers, economic development organizations, such as Pickaway Progress Partnerships, local business and industry, and OSU collaborators. Additional program partners: the PAST Foundation, DuPont, Safety Third Racing, COSI, Digital Flagship, and more. My clientele is primarily K-12 youth and the families and organizations interested in STEM programming opportunities.

Figure 2. OSU Extension Community Development’s STEM Program images by Meghan Thoreau.


 

2019-20 Elementary STEM Club Application Process is OPEN!!

OSU Extension, Pickaway County and Teays Valley School District have teamed up to plan and implement the district’s third annual after-school elementary-wide STEM Club. We will meet approximately 2 times per month in each of the four elementary buildings from 3:30-5:00 pm. Participants will be limited to 30 students per building. Acceptance in the after-school program will be an application based lottery. There will be a $ 25 fee for the year with financial hardship waivers available. The fee can be cash or check (written out to OSU Extension, Pickaway County) and turned in at the first STEM Club meeting or mailed to OSU Extension, Pickaway County, P.O. Box 9, Circleville, OH 43113. Save STEM Club blog, u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/, regular updates will be posted to website; such as, club meeting highlights, STEM challenges, and open access to the STEM Club calendar for your student’s STEM Club meetings. The goal of the program is to promote student interest and engagement in STEM in each of the elementaries. This program is considered an extension of the school day. Participants will be engaged in hands-on STEM activities and learn about careers in STEM.

Students who may enjoy STEM club are those who enjoy being challenged and who are interested in:

  • the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
  • the process of learning, asking questions and problem solving
  • helping people and making a difference in the world

If your child is interested in participating in the lottery visit the STEM Club Blog site for information and complete the online applicationApplications must be submitted online by the end of the school day, Friday, August 23rd. NO LATE APPLICATIONS BECAUSE IT IS A LOTTERY! (STEM Club Meeting dates are subject to change. In the event of school cancellation, STEM club will be canceled and not rescheduled.)

CONTACT INFO:

Judy Walley, TV High School Chemistry Teacher & STEM Club Educator, jwalley@tvsd.us
Meghan Thoreau, CD & STEM Extension Educator, thoreau.1@osu.edu

Recap: 2019 National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP)

The Importance of Millennials in the Workplace, presentation cover slide

Presentation cover slide, The Importance of Millennials in the Workplace

This past June Meghan Thoreau presented a scholarly presentation on, The Importance of Millennials in the Workplace, at the 2019 National Association of Community Development Professionals in Asheville, NC. The 30-minute presentation, go.osu.edu/millennials, highlighted:

  1. The changing conditions in the workplace and the workforce induced by emerging technologies, like automation and AI, which are expected to further disrupt ‘the nature work’ and entry-level workers.
  2. General values and career priorities of Millennials. What Millennials want, value, expect from employers, bring to the workplace, how they can improve the workplace, and how to attract Millennials.
  3. Considers possible Extension Generational Program Development ideas, tools, and strategies to engage business and industry that are interested in reevaluating traditional approaches to: employee acquisition, job assignment, employee development, and influencing over organizational culture to support the current and future workforce, in addition to, reevaluating the hiring process and targeted skill sets.
  4. Be proactive of Generation Z, ages 7-24, starting to enter the workforce.

Meghan is very willing to present on this topic and related topics to the local community and business leaders to foster a collaborative discussion on next-steps or programming feedback to considering new approaches and strategies to our youth workforce development programming. Contact Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Education, Thoreau.1@osu.edu.

She and her fellow OSUE colleagues were also National NACDEP Award Recipients. Becky Nesbitt (Distinguished Career Award); Brooke Beam (Cross Program Award – Using Virtual Reality in Educational Programming), and Meghan Thoreau (Educational Technology Award – Scholastic High School Drone Racing League Program); and Amanda Osborne (Educational Materials Award – Produce Perks Toolkit for Farmers Markets). These individuals were also North Central Regional  NACDEP winners.

A worthy read, Generation Z enters the workforce: generational and technological challenges in entry-level jobs, by Carolyn O’Boyle, Josefin Atack, and Kelly Monahan. Asks the hard questions, With Generation Z entering the workforce and the nature of entry-level jobs changing, how can organizations redesign these jobs in a way that can both attract and engage Gen Z and ensure that these jobs continue to generate a pipeline of future talent?

NACDEP 2018 Cleveland, OH – Train the Trainer, Hands-on Coding Workshop: Sphero

Are you involved in Youth Workforce Development Programs that targets the 21st Century Skillsets? Please join me at this years National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) in Cleveland, OH, June 9-13, 2018. I will be teaching a 90-minute workshop, Wednesday June 13th from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., through a partnership between Apple, we’ll be offering an important hands-on ‘entry point’ into computer coding for Educators – train the trainer style – because coding should not be intimidating. As a well-trained Educator, you have all of the skills you need to be successful. Your goal can be to just teach enough of the basics to inspire our youth to explore the multitude of career opportunities that computer programming underlays. For more information please visit, http://www.nacdep.net/2018-nacdep-conference.

Westfall Elementary Students, STEM Camp

Code is everywhere: agriculture, sports, education, art/design, pharmaceutics, robotics, health, entertainment, travel, law, politics, engineering, transportation, meteorology, tourism – you get the point. No youth or 21st Century Workforce Development Program should be absent of code.

Circleville Middle School Students, STEM Day

 

2017 Science Olympiad State Tournament

Last Saturday, I attended the 2017 Science Olympiad State Tournament hosted by the Ohio State University’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning, and I volunteered at the helicopter competition. I’m interested in supporting Science Olympiad (SO) clubs in Pickaway County and wanted to see the students in action and how the competitions are run. I joined the many parents, coaches, students, several interested professors, educators, and residents who volunteered because they valued science. After talking to many of them, I understand that they support the competition because it challenges our youth to explore and apply the systematic study of structure and behavior through observations and experiments.

I’d highly recommend getting involved and learning how to bring a SO club to your school! The video below is from a helicopter competition last season. 

The participants had their helicopters inspected, weighted, and their log books reviewed. It’s called a tournament, and it is, but it’s also a big, open experimental day of test flights, continued learning, networking, application, and assessment of new environmental variables. I was enamored at the varying levels of experience, dedication, and skill that was acquired from previous research and preflight tests. There was mastery from the veteran students that came back year after year to improve their designs and understanding of aerodynamics. I was impressed with Ohio’s SO, the projects, and exploration the competitions gave the students.

To date, Pickaway County has one Science Olympiad club – in Westfall Middle school headed by Rachael Joseph a dedicated 6th grade science teacher. I visited her after-school club and was thoroughly impressed with the students dedication, camaraderie, and drive to experiment, learn, and apply. If your a parent or a teacher interested in growing more SO clubs in Pickaway County, please contact me: 740.474.7534, thoreau.1@osu.edu. The state SO office is looking for more rural school districts to enter their competitions!

And for an easy helicopter activity to try with your kids, click here.

For over 30 years, Science Olympiad has led a revolution in science education. What began as a grassroots assembly of science teachers is now one of the premier science competitions in the nation, providing rigorous, standards-based challenges to nearly 7,000 teams in 50 states. Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering, and technology.

The Science Olympiad national tournament is the culmination of nearly 300 regional and state tournaments. This year it will take place May 19-20, 2017, at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. For more information about Science Olympiad, visit www.soinc.org.