By: Allison Cheek, Teays Valley High School STEM Club Mentor
Throughout the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work as a STEM Club Program Mentor Assistant. This experience has benefited me in several ways. Working with elementary students, as well as teaching alongside other STEM mentors, has led me to choose a career path in math education. I continue to learn and grow each time I attend Teays Valley’s Elementary STEM Club programming.
The Elementary STEM Club program is a partnership program between Teays Valley School District and OSU Extension, Pickaway County. We visit each of the four elementary schools in our district. I have learned that each building has a unique atmosphere, which also means that the students are wired differently. They may come up with new questions or inventive ways to solve problems. My skills, as a future educator, are enhanced every time I am able to teach, explain, or demonstrate something to a student.
My favorite STEM challenge was assisting with the Egyptian mummy escape tomb! As part of the STEM team, I was able, along with several other mentors and educators, to attend an escape room training at Trapped Columbus in Columbus, OH. This helped the team plan and create our own escape room specifically geared with STEM challenges.
Students had to find clues and solve ancient Egyptian riddles to escape from a sealed tomb – in the dark – our attempts to recreating an authentic problem solving environment! Presentation by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator
I also enjoyed helping the students learn how to program and fly drones. The students were exposed to dozens of career pathways where drones are being employed in the workplace.
Elementary students coding Parrot Drones in Swift Playground. Presentation by Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator
Allison Cheek, along with other STEM Program Mentors, assists with coding and drone flying challenges in Teays Valley Elementary STEM Club.
The biggest challenge of helping with STEM Club, is troubleshooting on the fly. STEM students are very curious, intelligent, and they ask very in-depth questions, some of which, I do not know the answers to or am able to fix all their problems. But I believe that’s ok, because the point is that they are thinking critical and seeking out solutions. Troubleshooting on the fly is difficult for me, but it definitely is expanding my adaptive skillset. With everything I learn, I am able to help and guide students into empowering themselves to problem solve. My favorite part of STEM is watching students light up with realization or creative ideas.
Cheek assists with Strategic Board Game Challenges
Cheek leads the students in a physical fitness challenge while wearing their Physbot fitness data trackers learning while learning about wearable technology and health monitoring. Presentation by Meghan Thoreau.
I feel that my job is accomplished when the students are having fun, while also gaining and understanding new material and concepts. This program is an awesome pathway to lead students into careers involving- science, technology, engineering, and math. Helping with STEM Club has been such an enriching and wonderful experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be involved.
Allison Cheek will be attending Bowling Green State University in the fall of 2019 for a degree in Secondary Education, Integrated Mathematics.