2018 Illinois STEM Rising Star Award Winners Announced

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Three Illinois Teachers Honored by the Illinois Science Teachers Association, the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics and ETA hand2mind

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Joyce, Beth and Marie exemplify the ways that teachers in Illinois and around the country are inspiring and engaging their students through STEM learning.

Today the Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA) and the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM), in collaboration with ETA hand2mind, announced the winners of the 2018 Illinois STEM Rising Star Awards for promising teachers looking to implement STEM in their classrooms. Honored at the 2018 Joint ISTA/ICTM conference were Joyce Anderson, kindergarten teacher, Richland County Elementary School, Olney; Beth Wax, K-5 STEM teacher, H.R. McCall School, Waukegan District 60; and Marie Winston, 6-8th grade STEAM teacher, Jack Hille Middle School, Oak Forest.

ISTA and ICTM members who judged this year’s awards looked for evidence of current teaching practices that include hands-on learning, small group instruction, centers rotations and overall student engagement. Each winner will receive $500, $1,000 in ETA hand2mind products, registration to the 2018 Joint ISTA/ICTM Conference and a one-year membership in ISTA or ICTM.

“Joyce, Beth and Marie exemplify the ways that teachers in Illinois and around the country are inspiring and engaging their students through STEM learning,” said Bill Chiasson, president, ETA hand2mind. “We are proud to honor them with resources to enhance and extend STEM learning opportunities for their students.”

Anderson will use her award to incorporate more STEM activities into the kindergarten curriculum. She started "Thinking Thursdays" in her classroom where once a week, the school’s youngest learners are introduced to various challenges and encouraged to work in small groups to plan, design and explain their solutions. Her students quickly learned the importance of team work and perseverance. They also learned that there is more than one solution to a problem and often asked if they could try another design on their own during free choice centers. Anderson’s students also code with unplugged activities and simple robots, learning basic coding skills and creating challenges for their robots.

In Wax’s STEM classes, students use the Engineering Design Process to enhance their understanding of how to engage with the world and of how things work and progress. The curriculum consists of coding steps, Lego Robotics, hands-on building and Makerspace. Through these lessons, Wax is able to inspire her students to want to go forward and answer questions such as “How can I improve our world to make it better for tomorrow?” In STEM classes, she allows all students to thrive at their optimal interest level through exciting hands-on real world experiences, both in and out of the classroom.

Winston’s students also use the Engineering Design Process to solve real world problems. Through the use of Edison robots, EV3 Lego Mindstorm robots and Spheros, students hone their coding skills to program the robots to assist in the solution to the problems. Using their STEAM skills, students provide a service to the community by designing toys for students with sensory integration disorders and carnival games for the elementary level. These programs provide a variety of engaging, hands-on activities that incorporate grade-level mathematics, science and visual and performing arts standards.

About the Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA)
The Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA) is a state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization run primarily by volunteers. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors which consists of five executive officers and 14 regional directors (two per region) who are elected by current ISTA members.

About the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM)
The Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) was organized in 1949 to create and foster greater interest in the teaching of mathematics at all grade levels. A small group of 90 interested mathematics teachers met that year at the University of Illinois to determine the structure for a state mathematics association.

The purposes of ICTM, as stated in the By-laws, are to encourage an active interest in all areas of mathematics and mathematics education, to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics and the role of mathematics in other disciplines, to promote research in the teaching and learning of mathematics, and to provide opportunities for exchange of views regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics.

About ETA hand2mind
ETA hand2mind believes that children learn by doing. The company’s mission is to champion learning by doing. A privately held company with more than 50 years of experience in education, ETA hand2mind’s hands-on learning solutions for math, science, STEM and literacy are unique in the marketplace—covering manipulatives, lessons, teacher/parent support materials and more. ETA Hand2mind is always on the lookout for new ways to tap into students’ natural curiosity and spark an interactive learning process. For more information, visit hand2mind.com.

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Lisa A Wolfe
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