Librarian Michelle Harris was the only elementary school educator to receive recognition at the 2015 STEM Educator Awards. She was presented with $500 to help start a STEM program for the library at Lulu Ross Elementary School, located in Milford, DE. The Delaware STEM Educator Award is given to a teacher that is passionate about STEM education, demonstrating exemplary innovation through their lessons and student interactions. In conjunction with the prize she was given by the STEM council, Harris was awarded with a second $500 accolade from Ashland Inc., which was used to purchase additional program materials. Although Harris did not place in the competition, the recognition and consolation compensation is an impressive accomplishment.

The other elementary school competitors did not have the same unique advantage as Harris. As the librarian, she interacts with students from each grade level. In an interview she explained what set her apart from the other educators.

“Probably the biggest thing that’s different is I have the opportunity to see all the students versus just one classroom of 30 kids. So, when you look at the fact that throughout the course of the year, 600 students, 600 plus students at this point, are having the opportunity to have different STEM lessons. It’s reaching every grade level, [every] background, girls, boys, the minorities; it touches base [with] everybody,” Harris said.

Harris worked as a librarian for 10 years in Smyrna, DE before transferring to her current position. For six weeks out of the school year she was able to work extensively with students from each grade. During that time they would work on a specific STEM unit. Instead of doing mini lessons, like the ones usually taught during the allotted 45 minute library sessions, Harris was able to spend more time on bigger projects, such as the third grade’s boat and bridge building lesson. Harris’ goal is to have a library program at Lulu Ross that can be as successful as the one she started while working in Smyrna. All of her winnings were spent on STEM focused materials to help jumpstart her aspiration.

Despite her obvious triumphs, Harris did not intend on becoming a STEM focused educator. In fact, before taking the library position at Smyrna, she was a language arts and social studies teacher. But, when her previous employers asked her to provide an additional course in the library, she looked to her husband for suggestions.

“We [said], ‘what else can we do with these kids?’ My husband teaches a STEM concentration. He’s the one that got me thinking about it,” Harris said.

Since the 2015 awards, Harris’ students, as well as her colleagues, are responding well to their new STEM project materials. The school’s art teacher, for example, has used the library’s new gravity kits with her classes. The exciting new items that were debuted last school year have some of the children already requesting specific lessons, Harris said.

“The best response I got from the [new] coding [lesson] was from a student. He took time to write me a note, and said that he did not really have any hobbies and he struggles to find things he likes, but he loves the coding. It was clear and simple ‘Thanks for introducing me to coding, I finally found something I like to do,’” Harris said.

Pleased with her students’ interest and new appreciation for STEM education, Harris hopes to continue to grow the budding program at Lulu Ross. With the new school year just beginning, she is excited to make learning fun for her kids. The STEM Educator’s award gave Mrs. Harris and the students at Lulu Ross elementary the materials and inspiration needed to learn and appreciate the importance of STEM education.

“I truly love what I teach. I really do,” Harris said.


My name is Mrs. Harris and I am the Librarian at Lulu Ross! I attended the University of Delaware and have spent the last ten years teaching in Smyrna. I enjoy traveling, fishing, visiting the beach, and playing with my two little girls. I also LOVE to READ. Books help me to escape to faraway places that otherwise I would never see.


Giavana Suraci is a senior strategic communications major at Temple University. She was born and raised in Philadelphia and plans to remain in the city. After graduation, she hopes to work for the Philadelphia Phillies in their public relations department.

This previous week on July 6th, I had the privilege to interview Travis Bower, currently the assistant principle at Georgetown Elementary in southern Delaware. Before Georgetown, Travis has worked in various school districts teaching middle school science, directing a Gifted Students program, and creating a science camp that uses common household chemicals to show kids how the brilliance of science can be found within their own homes. He has built his career upon a deep passion for STEM, most prominently seen through his love for robotics. While he considers it just a hobby, Travis is the creator of the VEX Robotics club in Manassas Park (who competes internationally) and brought the VEX platform to Georgetown where it continues to grow. Through robotics, he has positively influenced the lives of hundreds of young students and fueled their interests in STEM. Travis strongly believes that the future of STEM in Delaware is bright, and that the opportunity to invest in and build STEM culture is there. His passion is contagious, visible in his responses below. I hope you enjoy learning about his story as much as I did.


DSTEMWhat does STEM mean to you?

Travis: STEM to me is a misnomer, and I feel it should be STEAM, and include the arts. So much of the engineering and design process that has a strong foundation in creativity and ingenuity that we should really include the arts into the acronym. Part of the reason I love robotics is because it requires a certain aesthetic factor. Not only should a robot be functional, but each has a unique, artistic design that adds a whole new dimension of creativity and simulates the brain in a completely different way. To me, STEAM, or STEM is not just about subject matter, it is a way of thinking and problem solving that extends beyond the four areas that compose it. It is about problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication that has existed for decades, but was set aside through the No Child Left Behind movement.

When I was in middle school, each year, we did a variety of projects that were cross-curricular and extended beyond the realms of each area. Looking back, those were STEM activities, and were some of the most memorable and meaningful lessons I learned. In education, we really need to continue our efforts to teach students to think and be critical of their ideas in efforts to strengthen their understandings, and be curious about how the world works.  By doing this, I think we will create well-rounded, lifelong learners that will be prepared for their futures.


DSTEM: How did you grow such a strong passion for education & teaching STEM?

Travis:  It has always been an interest of mine, and the methodology of STEM in education has really challenged me. I have always thought that students should be their own guide to their education, and it has really been something that I strive to teach. As educators, we want our students to innately be curious and to be driven to learn their entire life, and STEM provides that opportunity. One thing that I really enjoyed about teaching Science, and STEM at Selbyville Middle was the inquiry based learning approach that I used. Project Lead the Way is based on that model, and it really challenges students to think. It’s amazing to give students a problem to solve and have them find their own answer. It’s more fun for them, and more fun for me as a teacher. I strongly believe, if I’m not having fun teaching, they aren’t having fun learning. I tell my students all the time, I could teach you anything you want I just have to find a way to show it to you.


DSTEM: What role did teaching STEM play in shaping the trajectory of your career?

Travis: I’m a science teacher by training, and have always had a scientific curiosity.  When I first started teaching in Manassas Park, VA, I taught middle school science, and realized that the population I served was struggling with their performance in science. To try and help, I created a summer camp with a grant I received from the district’s education foundation to help reinforce the content I taught. I worked together with NSF and the local police department to help get the camp off the ground. Jokingly, I called it my “Kitchen Science Camp,” because despite its complexity everything I taught was using household chemicals (egg whites, toothpicks, strawberry DNA) and I could run a week long camp for less than $300.

I soon found myself in the role of the Gifted Coordinator for my school, and to add an inquiry-based curriculum, I piloted what was at the time Google’s App Inventor program with our middle school students. Since Google is open sourced and generally supportive of engineering, it was easy to apply to get into the Google market and give every student access to the software. I gave them a basic crash course in programming using the software and gave them the assignment of creating an app that we would showcase at our “tech symposium” at the end of the semester. Kids ran with it, using their creativity to make everything from gaming apps to one that alerts you when dinner is ready. The students loved it and we had a variety of district administrators come who were very impressed with our efforts. Overall it was a fantastic experience.

Shortly after, I met Denyse Carroll, who I met previously when she worked at Micron Technology, and really got me interested in Robotics. If you aren’t familiar with Denyse, she is a incredible person whose energy and passion is contagious. She has been a huge source of inspiration so far in my career. Denyse helped me start the VEX Robotics club in Manassas Park, and within two years, helped me build a program that was competing at the world level. She taught me about “coopertition,” and really how much is involved in STEM. Coopertition (cooperation and competition) is the idea that you help your competitors succeed so that the overall competition is stronger, and both parties are better off. The passion she shows for her students, and the undying determination for success that she instills in them is amazing, and I strive to be like that.

When I began looking for administrative positions, I found myself talking with Indian River School district, and really showed an interest in their robotics program at Selbyville Middle School. I laid out what I thought we could do to build the program, and before I knew it, I was packed and leaving Virginia for sandier places to teach. When I began at SMS, I had the idea of building the robotics program not just at SMS, but through the district and the state. My wife Mary has been supportive the entire time, and as soon as we moved to Delaware, she encouraged and helped me to start working on those goals.  She helped me organize a robotics tournament at SMS last year, and has been a great sounding board and motivator for the program I’ve been working on at GE.  My vision of making every school within IRSD having a STEM or robotics program is moving quite a long with her help and ideas. I’m working on creating programs at some of our elementary schools, and have brought robotics into our ExCEL program for fourth and fifth graders.


DSTEM: Robotics is clearly a passion of yours, why is robotics important to the education process and preparing students for future careers?

Travis:  My may reason for enjoying robotics so much is that it includes a variety of STEM skills. To me, it’s the best “bang for your buck”  In VEX, FLL or VEX IQ, not only do you use the design process to go through the creating of your robot, but you also need to know how to program your robot, which is a separate field of study.

At competitions, students learn need to give presentations to judges as well, which teaches them to be strong communicators and collaborators.  Judges look to see not only how well they use the design process, but also how they can communicate their ideas, and work well with their peers throughout all levels of the competition. Plus, when they are competing, students quickly learn how to adapt their robot, design or approach, which allows for quick thinking and problem solving.


DSTEM: Tell me a little about the program you’re developing for STEM students in robotics.

Travis: At Georgetown Elementary, we started a robotics program that primarily deals with students in 3rd -5th grade using the VEX IQ platform.  We had 70 applicants and were able to have two six-week sessions of 35 each. Working with Dickie Messick and Nicole Morey, we taught basic building and programming skills.

The governor visited our first session, and the students really had a good experience showing him what we did, and how interested they were in STEM.  We attended Del Tech’s STEM expo at the Owens’ campus, and held several parent nights to showcase our talents to our families.  It was really successful, and we are excited about next year.


DSTEM: Where do you see this program heading in the future? What is the future importance of robotics in Delaware education?

Travis:  Our program next year will expand to have more teams for a longer amount of time.  We’re looking to have 7 teams ready to compete, and will host the state’s first VEX IQ tournament on February 4th.  We’re hoping to have more than just our seven teams competing, and are trying to get other elementary schools in our district, as well as anyone who has a team throughout the state.  The top ranked team will earn a bid to compete at the VEX IQ World Championship in Louisville, KY in April.

I think by starting to have more events like this, we can really work to expand STEM programs throughout the state.  Mike Fitzgerald and Melvin D’Souza and I are trying to expand VEX programs throughout the state for Middle and High school, while trying to reach the younger students as well. If we can have more programs started within the state, we can really start to have schools consider and implement stronger STEM programs.


DSTEMYou were an award winner at last year’s STEM awards, what was that experience like and how has it helped you going forward?

Travis:  The whole experience with the award was exciting and humbling at the same time.  It felt great to not only be recognized by the Delaware STEM council, but also to meet my peers who are as dedicated to the cause as I am.  I’ve tried to connect with some of the other winners, and working with Rob Gibson, they now have a robotics program at Sussex Central, and are looking to have a competitive team next year.

As far as going forward, one thing has proven to be a benefit is that the recognition seems to have opened doors to help me work with others to build STEM programs in their schools.  Though the students of Georgetown Elementary are my top concern, I do what I can to work with other schools to make sure that all students have access to a high quality education.  As an educator, our primary goal is to provide educational opportunities for our students, and I truly believe that all students are our students, and any educators with expertise in an area should share their knowledge with our students.


DSTEM: In your opinion, what does STEM mean for the larger community and the state?

Travis: STEM is a pathway that we need to really invest in for the state, and the efforts of various pockets and groups are slowly making progress. Having worked in an area where STEM is prevalent, and where there is a strong technology industry to utilize, I see the potential of what we can do here.

The southern end of Delaware is still agriculturally centered, but there is a lot that we can do to bring STEM fields into the area.  As technology becomes more available, we can provide opportunities a lot easier to our students and develop programs with local businesses to link them to our schools.

I’ve seen in Wilmington, there has been a great deal of effort to start STEM initiatives, and as much as they have put into them, it was disheartening to see some of them struggle.  Everyone involved knows what STEM can do, but the hardest part is trying to get the rest of the state to see it and it’s potential. I really applaud the efforts of those involved in creating the STEM Academy, as it does have a great deal of potential, but losing their charter was a huge setback to the initiative, and I hope they can work towards finding a new approach and are not discouraged by the setback.


DSTEM: STEM careers are plentiful for those who pursue them, how do you think we get kids involved with STEM, and more importantly get them involved at a young age (k-12) so that they can be prepared for a future in STEM, regardless if they attend a 4 year college?

Travis:  The best way to get them involved is to start them young, and reach all demographics if possible. Utilizing summer camps, expos and other activities are great pathways to reach all students. The way I foresee being most effective has two approaches. You need to create a pipeline to get students involved in all grades, and you need to make sure you reach all demographics.

When VEX IQ was first released a friend of mine, Yolanda Farmer, and I added it to Manassas Park’s robotics club. We created a program called STEMLET (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Learning English Together), with the idea of teaching STEM to ELL students. Our goal was to provide them the opportunities to learn STEM skills in an atmosphere that was not as competitive as the VEX platform was. After a year or two in the program, we saw that those still interested were transitioning to VEX with the same skills and abilities as those that were in VEX the entire time.

In Delaware, I am working with a similar mindset. I’ve developed partnerships with the Del Tech Owen’s campus to help build a bridge between our students and theirs. David LaFazia and I are working to tie the two schools together, and we already captures a great deal of interest from our elementary students, and as they continue their education, we’ll be able to expand more.  If we can create outreach opportunities that allow college students to work with high school students, high school with middle school, and middle with elementary school, students will be involved in STEM their entire career, and foster a genuine interest in STEM.

There’s a really interesting book called “The New Cool” that speaks of a school that started their FRC program, and in follow up articles about the program, cite that students in fourth grade are already starting to figure out what they can to do get into the high school club.  I think if we can generate that kind of interest with our programs, students will be interested.  The success I had at SMS, and what I’ve started already at GE this year, have really made students interested in the STEM programs.


DSTEMWhat do you think the future holds for STEM education and the STEM economy in Delaware?

Travis:  I think it’s an opportunity we need to really invest in and take the time to build up. With the federal funds that Del Tech received in 2015 to help reach minority students, we should be able to create opportunities for our students, of all demographics.  One of the things that Senator Carper said that I really think we need to look into is that if we want the STEM jobs to develop throughout the state, we need to make sure that our students are prepared for them.  I feel that by focusing on programs to create learning opportunities, they will come.

In today’s world, youth participation in STEM is more important than ever. Careers in these fields are abundant, and it is incredible important that we push young minds to follow their passions for STEM through grade school and college. After speaking with Travis it is clear that he is the perfect example of the type of educator we need for STEM growth in the United States. I would like to thank him for his time and inspiration.

Interview on behalf of Delaware STEM conducted by Zachary Yonda – Zach is a passionate STEM advocate as well as a devoted student athlete on the men’s basketball team at Swarthmore College. He is currently pursuing a degree in economics.

by: Stephen E. Schwartz

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions recently signaled the official start of the 2016 campaign season.  Yet, with all of the talk of making America safe/great, of reducing income inequality, of putting Americans back to work, of raising the minimum wage, there seems to be little to no mention of perhaps the fundamental factor in enabling the United States to find new (or former?) levels of success – the American education system!  Founding father Thomas Jefferson called for an “educated citizenry,” and that education – though very different in the 21stcentury – is even more important today than it was in the 18th century.    As was forecast by Adam Toffler in his 1970 novel Future Shock, our society is facing huge changes – changes which will probably accelerate in the next few decades as we move beyond the industrial era into an ever  more technologically-dependent situation.  To thrive in, or even to cope with, that technological era, citizens will need far more science understandings, far more math expertise than ever before.  Using the current buzz word, 21st century students need vastly enhanced STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills and understanding.

When I was in school in the 1960s, I was strongly moved by Rachel Carson’s The Silent Spring.  In that book, she clearly illustrated the impact of synthetic pesticides which were poisoning the environment.  Despite strong pressure from the chemical industry and even agriculture – along with government lethargy – that book was successful in eventually getting DDT banned, but only when the general public became informed.  Most of our modern inventions have both positive and negative attributes, and it is essential that citizens have the wherewithal – both individually and collectively – to consciously conduct cost benefit analyses.

For example, we all are bombarded with television pharmaceutical advertisements which promise relief, cures, etc. while fast-forwarding through a plethora of risks and potential side-effects.  A 21st century citizen of the United States needs to be equipped with enough science background and enough statistics background to make good personal judgments.  With the successful mapping of the genome, we are learning that all of us have some mutant cells and some predispositions; equipped with that information – and the necessary educational background to understand it all – our children should be able to make informed decisions about their own health and that of their aging loved ones.  With the reality of genetically-modified crops, don’t we want all citizens to be able to make informed decisions about the relative safety of their food?

Water is fundamental to life, yet it is a finite resource.  A recent study in the “Scientific American” noted that “only half of drugs are removed by sewage treatment plants.”  In fact, it is estimated that the drinking water in New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi, has been through seven people by the time it comes out of the faucets in homes.  I recently heard a nurse urging someone “to flush” unused opiates to keep them out of the hands of youth; shouldn’t everyone understand the consequences of such actions on the general population, on fish, on wildlife, on the water.  While we are blessed in Delaware with relatively abundant water supplies, we also have thousands of failing septic systems which threaten that supply, and our students are not being taught what should and should not go through those systems.  The biology and chemistry which we were taught years ago must be upgraded!

Like it or not, everyone is dependent upon computer technology.  Bank books and stock certificates are a thing of the past.  Even several years ago, Steve Jobs said, “computer science is a liberal art” that “everyone should have a mastery of to some extent.”  There are literally millions of coding jobs which are being sent “off shore” because not enough Americans have the skills.  Coding is taught in only 10% of the high schools in the USA.  While we fine-tune [Common Core!] basic standards in English and math, we are largely ignoring computer science; Delaware does not have rigorous computer science standards and fully 20% of students’ homes lack access to the Internet.

Scientists are creating new synthetic materials and composites to improve our lives.  Look at what our automobiles are made of.  Look at the potential of the technology of 3-D printers.  Yet, like almost any new invention, there are potential pitfalls and by-products.  Educated citizens must demand appropriate protections and testings, while ensuring that competing traditional methods do not un-duly hinder legitimate progress.

Our politicians will proudly point to the American’s historical “pioneer spirit” and “Yankee ingenuity;” yet we see that dozens of countries across the globe are working harder and smarter to dominate the 21st century.  While we can yearn for the great factory jobs of the 20thcentury, robotics has largely replaced those jobs, and the ones that still remain can be accomplished much cheaper in developing countries.  For our youth to compete on a global scale, they need first class STEM skills; look at the job market today – STEM jobs are paying high wages while those without technical skills are falling out of or to the bottom of the middle class.  This situation is a reality of the 21st century!  Yet, even aside from employment issues, each individual needs a firm grounding in science and technology to function effectively as a citizen in the USA.  Do you know how well your local schools are doing in providing students with a sound STEM foundation?  Engage those politicians who seek your vote and force them beyond the platitudes of “improving education” into significant and specific plans and ideas for establishing STEM competency in all of our students.

Dr. Schwartz is a retired English teacher and public school administrator living in Seaford; he is a past president of the Delaware Foundation for Math & Science Education.

By Rysheema Dixon – May 23rd, 2016

STEM is crucial to growing our economy. Building the STEM infrastructure in the State and in our local communities exposes our students and residents to the booming STEM climate affecting our neighborhoods everyday. Changing the school environment and learning techniques to expand our student’s minds so they can gain interest in the exciting new careers that STEM has to offer. As the world evolves, STEM becomes more and more important for our communities to understand and work in.

My extensive background in health through STEM is a result of: Delcastle Vo-Tech High School practical nursing program; volunteering at local hospitals; attending a medical/ dental internship in Nebraska and working over the summer with John Hopkins as a health assistant in Massachusetts at a language camp. I was also a biological science major until my senior year at the University of Delaware before I switched to Sociology as I decided that helping people required more than medicine.

Having a background in the sciences helped me combine with my love for community work. I started my own business called RD Innovative Planning in 2011 which is a community development group that assists non-profits and churches with organizing around a specific issue, planning events and managing projects to ensure our non-profits and churches are delivering their services to their best ability. My experience in STEM has also allowed me to tap into technology. I am a Delaware Stakeholder and Delaware named me as one of the Top 12 Women in Delaware shaping the Technology Scene in 2014.

As I now enter into the public office arena, I understand how STEM plays an enormous part in the landscape of our City of Wilmington. Technology is emerging in many ways across the City, we have amazing STEM non-profits, State programs and private sector interests. As I stated earlier, we should encourage our school systems to heighten awareness and teach our young people ways to expand their career opportunities. I am looking forward to working with STEM programs/projects across the City to ultimately improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods. As well as adding to the Arts and Culture in the City creating the STEAM effect which is powerful. In today’s society, we have to be creative and innovative as we move forward to make an impact.

My experience with STEM has made me the leader I am today. I am a proud advocate of STEM!


July 2015 – By Daniel Suchenski

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), are vital disciplines to our future, the future of our country, the future of our region and the future of our children.

Stop and consider how often we experience STEM in our daily lives? Example of STEM include everything from the natural world, to our smartphones, to healthcare, to agriculture, to cleaning supplies you buy at the grocery store and the roads, bridges other transportation services you may have used to get to that grocery store in the first place. STEM is important, not only because it pervades every aspect of our lives, but because it is the key to a better tomorrow.

Humanity has noble and long-standing tradition of innovation, entrepreneurship and exploration that has allowed us to do everything from go to the moon, to instantly send information around the world, and even to save and extend lives.

Sustainability has a very storied past but seems to have reached a pinnacle moment of late. Recent key players around the world are asking more from humanity now than ever before to come together to handle local and global issues that STEM will play the principal role in solving.

Let’s consider how STEM effects what is closest and dearest to us—our children. For the next generation to succeed STEM innovation will be absolutely vital for continued sustainable development across the globe. For 2014, the US News and World Report listed the ten best jobs. All ten of them were in STEM fields: software developer, computer systems analyst, dentist, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, registered nurse, physical therapist, physician, web developer, dental hygienist[1]. According to the U. S. Department of Education, STEM jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and the U.S. is simply not producing enough candidates to fill them. Only 16% of high school seniors are interested in pursuing STEM careers.[2] Not only is STEM important to having our children gainfully employed, but also offers a sustainable innovation pathway for the world.

Rob Denson, Chair, STEM Higher Education Council, President, Des Moines Area Community College and Edie Fraser, Chief Executive Officer, STEMConnector® state, as part of the forward to their new book Advancing a Jobs-Driven Economy that, “Aligning, corporate, education, and community partners requires that we rethink and redesign the system that supports STEM education and workforce preparedness. The sustainability of our schools, the innovative engines of our businesses, the prosperity of communities, and the global competitiveness of our economies are at stake.”[3]

The connection between sustainability and STEM is hardly just an American need. While the Obama administration and congress seem aligned on the greater need for STEM nationally, the international community is been making significant steps to advance a global STEM driven economy. Pope Francis on July 21st 2015, hosted some 65 mayors from across the world at the Vatican-sponsored conference on Climate Change. The two-day conference, titled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities” and “Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities,” is the latest in a series of public efforts on the part of the Vatican to influence the debate on climate change and other global issues. Like many global issues of today, it will take skilled Scientists, Mathematicians, Engineers and Technologists to come up with plans to help alleviate growing problems like climate change, pollution, waste, water usage, and much much more.

The Pope’s efforts come at a time when the international community at the United Nations will vote September 2015 on sustainable development goals, and member nations will submit plans to combat climate change this winter in Paris. The United Nations in a 2013 meeting that acted as a precursor to the September Sustainable Development Goals noted that while innovation and R&D are essential elements to the goals, that in particular that areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics: the so called STEM subjects will be “the key to ensuring sustainable progress: no effective research would be possible without a steady supply of trained, competent researchers” trained in STEM disciplines.[4]

For the Delaware Valley region, investing in the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics makes sense for local large firms like InterDigital, Dow, Ashland, Christiana Care Health System, AstraZeneca, DuPont, AirLiquide and Incyte, as well as several international engineering firms, and a growing large life sciences and agriculture industry. The Delaware Valley region’s challenge in recruiting sufficient numbers of STEM professionals is daunting, in the face of competing with known areas like the Silicon Valley or the Research Triangle. Local firms are finding it difficult to recruit the STEM professionals they need to continue to be successful in today’s ever-changing business environment.

According to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, Delaware ranks only behind Massachusetts for the best state to get a job as a STEM grad.[5] And the region will need thousands of additional people completing post-secondary degrees by every year. From community colleges like Delaware Technical, to state institutions like Delaware State University and the University of Delaware, and private colleges like Wesley, and Wilmington University and others, the region has the capacity to produce more trained individuals. Introducing our current and future students to STEM opportunities and getting them engaged and excited about seeking advanced schooling in these areas is essential to meet these demands.

If the United States is to remain a center for research, innovation, entrepreneurship and prominence, then we must motivate all citizens into STEM fields. Because STEM is so important for our children, our region and our country, we need to encourage current and future generations of students, to understand and embrace the technology that affects them every day of their lives. Students should be advised on the merits of taking as many math and science courses in elementary and middle as much as possible but also meet with STEM professional mentors like the Its My Future Program that Junior Achievement of Delaware administers[6], to make science and math courses fun and interesting such that their passions will grow into an exciting and rewarding STEM career.



Daniel Suchenski runs the Governor’s STEM Council for the state of Delaware. He is responsible for oversight and management of all day-to-day functions and services; acts as the focal point for all STEM Council matters; serves as the primary liaison to the Governor’s Office, Department of Education, institutions of higher education and regional businesses to further the mission of the STEM Council.



[3] STEMConnector Team (2015). Advancing a Jobs-Driven Economy. New York, NY. Morgan James Publishing. Page XXII




By Ken Chisholm and Steven Worden – RadioNewark (WIZU 99.9 FM)

RadioNewark is an internet station, for now, and can be found on iTunes (News), (1st page of news-talk genre), on app it is the #2 news station behind BBC World Service.  This year, the FCC has granted Newark Community Radio Inc. (the parent company of RadioNewark) a construction permit to build a low power FM radio station that will cover all of Newark, Delaware and surrounding communities.  The internet station will continue broadcasting as it has since 2010, but change its name to “OMNIBUS” radio.  The local broadcast station will be RadioNewark, WIZU 99.9 FM.

Newark has very limited local print media and virtually no video media for advertising.  Local radio is far and away the best return on the advertising dollar; the best “bang for your buck.”   This is the void to be filled by RadioNewark.  Our local broadcast station will cover the Newark demographic and reach the local audience not currently covered by other formats.  RadioNewark will ‘partner’ with those Newark businesses who provide sponsorship of our science programming, with the goal that when a customer’s need for a product or service arises their first thought that comes to mind will be that sponsor.

“What is a science radio station?”  — Science (Latin root scientia) means ‘knowledge’.  Today, it might more mean ‘the pursuit of knowledge.’  RadioNewark brings interesting and educational science content to you in a clear and articulate audio stream that delivers internationally sourced science-related stories and interviews with local brilliant minds.  Stories about space exploration, archaeology, paleontology, climate change, breakthroughs in medicine, chemistry, physics,–you name it.  RadioNewark literally brings this science-based programming to individuals with “a mind for science.”

“How RadioNewark Supports STEM Education” – STEM education is simply the acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  A broader definition as provided by the National Science Teachers Assoc., or NSTA, is:

STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.

Radio Newark’s programming offers support and ideas for how to draw connections across disciplines. The programming embodies STEM education for everyone. Story telling is an art, and Radio Newark’s “A Mind for Science” stories aspire to entertain and educate at the same time.  As a nation, we need well-educated citizens in STEM fields. Currently, the “T” and “E” in STEM are rarely taught in K–12 settings. Because of this, few people understand the way in which these fields benefit our society or the variety of careers that support them. By exposing our listeners to STEM topics and the people engaged with them, Radio Newark can help to deepen everyone’s understanding of the world in which we live.

Radio Newark offers short, STEM-focused stories intended to spark the interest of general audiences. We will partner with local schools to expose students to science communication and to provide examples of the many fields of study and possible careers that exist under the umbrella of STEM education. Families can listen together and talk about the topics that interest them. Our website will carry occasional blog posts that accompany some of our “A Mind for Science” stories with pictures, behind-the-scenes details, and additional resources about the topic.

By James DeMartino – Founder and President – Y Bicycle Association

The Bicycle – We all know about bicycles, we learn to ride a bicycle from an early age, 3 or 4 years old, some younger, many older.  We started on tricycles maybe a Big Wheel, and then progressed to a two-wheeler with training wheels and one day we even removed the training wheels and rode on our own.

Some children use the bicycle to ride to school, some to a friend’s house and some just like to ride and go fast up and down the street.  Then there are BMX and mountain bikes which open a whole new adventure for children.  As we grow, work and move to urban areas the concept of affordable transportation and commuting become priority.  There are even some who desire a healthy lifestyle and use the bicycle for exercise and possibly competition.  Finally, if you have a life long enthusiasm for bicycles, you open up a retail store to sell the most popular bikes, rent bikes and even repair and maintain bikes.

The fact is historically, people have grown up with the bicycle.  But, do we know about the bicycle?  Do we realize the Aerospace industry was launched by the Wright Brothers who had a small shop and built bicycles?  Many of the principles used to design and test for the first recorded flight were based on their knowledge and understanding of the bicycle. One of the designs of their airplane was propelled by pedal power.  Do we understand the technology of mechanics, structure, metals and composites? Or do we know the math of geometry for design and function, gear ratios for speed, formulas for power conversion and watts?  Have we thought about the engineering required for the combining of different composites and components to structurally withstand stress in order to function as intended?  Finally, have we considered the science of momentum, aerodynamics, energy, health, fitness and even environmental impact?


The point of this litany is the Bicycle is the ultimate product for teaching children about the principles and application of STEM.  People of all ages have grown up with the bicycle and we

can all relate to it.  Parents and grandparents can even help children learn about STEM by using the bicycle as an example in principle and reality; they can all go for a ride!


Students can connect with parents, teachers, engineers and scientists because they all have a common understanding of The Bicycle.  The best method to promote STEM education is begin with this common understanding and develop the desire and knowledge to pursue education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  With a good understanding of basic principles, creative thinking and a desire to improve a common product the limits are boundless.

Without realizing it, you have learned, lived, loved and developed your own career all because of a bicycle. This is what a bicycle has done for many generations and with the proper direction can provide even a better future for generations to follow.

Become a member of Y Bicycle Association  –  Visit us at  –  Like us on Facebook@ybicycleassociation and Follow us on Twitter@ybicycleassoc


Y Bicycle:

To Educate our youth about the benefits of cycling from safe riding to a healthy lifestyle.
To provide and support bicycle programs to all children in rural and urban areas.
To provide an awareness and understanding of the bicycle industry.
To promote enthusiasm for creative design and function for the future of cycling. 
To encourage and foster continued learning of bicycle design and manufacturing in conjunction with high school STEM programs.

By Monica Mizzoni

This past week I had the opportunity to interview with Michael Canning, a senior at Caesar Rodney High School. Canning serves as the student representative on the Governor’s STEM council for Delaware. He also currently serves as the President of the Delaware Technology Student Association, “a non-profit student organization that fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering.”

When I asked Canning about his role in STEM he responded by explaining that his most influential involvement in STEM is serving as the student representative for the state of Delaware. As representative, he attends meetings, provides input in discussions, and has been an important voice on the Council’s signature initiative; the Delaware STEM Educator Awards. He values his role on the STEM council because he feels that he “provides a different perspective to the council members as he voices opinions from a student’s point of view.”

Furthermore, as the leader of the Delaware Technology Student Association (DETSA), he provides insight to STEM classes in public schools, helps write the curriculum for STEM courses, and has the chance to communicate with various tech teachers around the state. With TSA, he also encourages students to get involved in STEM and shows other students why STEM is fun. Each year, the TSA runs their State Conference which involves over 750 students, advisers, and judges from across the state of Delaware.  Students attending the conference participate in various competitive events. The members of the council also volunteer at STEM outreach programs where high school age students teach younger students. His favorite event is the Invention Convention, a three-day event held at the Hagley Museum in Delaware. The TSA students help to run this event where kids are invited to build their dream inventions with recycled household items and participate in other hands-on interactive experiments and activities.

In his spare time, Canning enjoys applying what he has learned in his engineering and computer classes to fix things at home. Canning asserted that, “STEM is not just something experienced in a classroom, for most, if not all, students it carries over into normal everyday life.” This shows why STEM is so relevant and important to everyone.

When I asked Canning what he believes is the importance of STEM education, he explained how in the past there has been reliance on the status quo, but now that we have entered a new era of technology, we should embrace the opportunity to learn how new technologies operate. He believes that STEM goes hand-in-hand with the need to acclimate students to new technologies. Additionally, there is a high demand of STEM jobs, so teaching kids STEM not only helps students acquire jobs, but also teaches them valuable skills that are useful in their day-to-day lives.

In conclusion, Canning is appreciative for the opportunities that he has had through serving on the STEM Council and the Delaware TSA. He feels honored to be the student representative on the council voicing the opinion of the students of Delaware, and is determined to continue working to make Delaware a better through science, technology, engineering and math.


About Delaware STEM:

The STEM Council, composed of more than two dozen appointed members representing businesses, educational institutions and government agencies throughout the state, was created by Governor Jack Markell in 2011 to increase the STEM literacy of all Delaware students, thereby expanding the STEM capable workforce and fueling economic growth for all Delawareans.


About DETSA:

The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs.

Delaware STEM

Virginia Hanna joined the Kalmar Nyckel’s team as the new assistant director of education earlier this year. Since 1998, the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel has served as a floating classroom and an inspirational platform for educational outreach.  We offer people of all ages a variety of sea- and land-based learning and recreational experiences that promote STEM for the greater Delaware community.

Daniel Suchenski from the Delaware STEM Council visiting the Kalmar Nyckel to learn more about STEM-to-Stern – October 2015

Earlier this year, the foundation launched a new hands-on STEM field trip experience for Middle and High School students. The “STEM to Stern” program integrates Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering concepts aboard Kalmar Nyckel, our floating laboratory, and in the new Copeland Maritime Center. Students conduct experiments and work together to find solutions to real life STEM challenges that sailors have faced for centuries. Interactive Learning Stations include: Celestial Navigation, Sail Velocity and Wind Vectors, Buoyancy, Mechanical Advantage and so much more.

“To us STEM is not just an educational and workforce term for success, it’s what we are founded on; It’s what we do every day here at the Foundation.”   – Captain Lauren.

A few moments with our inspirational staff will spark that passion for inquiry based learning and the fun of all things STEM for our teachers, students, parents, and adults of all ages.

Celestial Navigation: Students will use longitude and latitude as well as navigation tools to plot a desired course. They will analyze the effectiveness of navigation at sea by “dead reckoning” and by using a sextant. Students will also learn significant celestial bodies used by sailors throughout history to circumnavigate the globe.

Sail Velocity and Wind Vectors: Students will determine true wind from relative wind and study ship velocity vectors! They will also analyze the wind directions and its impact on the ship as they sail down the Christiana River.

Buoyancy: Students will participate in a buoyancy ship-model building challenge. They will determine the center of gravity, buoyancy, hull resistance and wind force. Students will also learn and use the “Free Surface Effect.”

Mechanical Advantage: Students will determine the mechanical advantage of various machines used on the ship based on calculations from the Main Deck’s Physical features.

For more information please contact Ms. Hanna at:

Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 East Seventh Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

Kalmar Nyckel: The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to “preserving and promoting the cultural and maritime heritage of Delaware for the education and enrichment of all.”  The Foundation is a volunteer-based organization that built, owns, and operates the Tall Ship of Delaware, Kalmar Nyckel. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a unique resource in the greater Delaware community. The Kalmar Nyckel is known for innovative educational and outreach programs. The Kalmar Nyckel also serves as a catalyst for social and economic development in and beyond the state of Delaware.

Delaware STEM Council: Delaware STEM was created to evaluate the state of STEM education in our schools and recommend ways to improve it.  Our goals are to:

  • Expand the number of Delaware students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields and broaden the participation of women and minorities in these fields.
  • Expand the STEM capable workforce to create, grow and attract STEM related businesses to Delaware.
  • Increase STEM literacy for all Delaware students including those who pursue non-STEM related careers, but need STEM skills.

By Dr. Randolph Guschl

I am Interim Executive Director for the Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education (DFSME). I am a long-time resident of Delaware who has been personally connected to science education in this state for a good portion of my career. I am a retired scientist who was involved for over 40 years in DuPont’s major local and national efforts in science education, and as a founding member of DFSME and a member of the Governor’s STEM Council, I have a strong interest in the success of STEM education in Delaware. My first mission as the head of DFSME has been to investigate what is currently going on here in STEM education. So what do I see and hear?

For the past 3 months I have had a fascinating series of visits and interviews with leaders in STEM education in Delaware, and I am impressed with what is going on in our state. I saw great things in Brandywine, Indian River, and New Castle County Vo-Tech schools. However, many of these successes are isolated or are known only to those experiencing them. In order to make these successes system-wide, we must increase communication and advocacy associated with such programs. Both DFSME and the Governor’s STEM Council recognize that coordination among these programs and the people involved in them will increase their impact. We have successfully put together a number of pieces of the STEM education puzzle but many more are needed to complete the picture. It is the job of DFSME and the STEM Council to identify the missing pieces and address the barriers that prevent them from being put in place.

One thing I have discovered is that even among the strongest of STEM supporters, there seems to be little agreement about what STEM really means and what fields it encompasses.  Most often, the passionate teachers, administrators and supporters want to see more STEM education in the classroom. However, state and business leaders do not always think it reflects the bigger picture. In order for audiences not to turn off as soon as they hear the words “STEM education” the terms need to be better defined and understood. There is a growing momentum in the rest of the nation to see STEM as a key factor in over 60% of all jobs in the U.S. These jobs include more than the aerospace, chemical and auto industries that first used the phrase. They also include other huge industries, including the food, agriculture, healthcare, biotechnology and information technology industries—many of which have a footprint in Delaware and need a local, STEM-savvy workforce. We have to teach our Delaware audience that STEM encompasses all these industries and more.

We must also recognize that STEM is not just the content of science and engineering nor is it just memorized facts. It is the hands-on, inquiry-based experience that goes beyond the labs staged in many high school text books. Delaware actually has a head start through its earlier statewide adoption of the “Smithsonian Project” which made our small state a leader in teaching methods. Introducing STEM using hands-on, inquiry based teaching methodology means our students can experience the fact-gathering and synthesis, the exploration and discovery that allow them to make their own informed decisions and that permit students to develop skills and experience the excitement of using these skills to create things and understand their world. Students with these experiences will be better able to envision themselves in exciting, high-paying jobs and careers. More of them will be able to see the point of entering certificate programs, two-year programs, or four-year programs. But the spread of advanced technology into so many jobs is not the only reason that we need this renewed emphasis and improved communication related to STEM. As so many teachers remind me, it’s not just those who pursue those careers who need these skills; we need every citizen to experience and be able to use these skills in order to make their own informed decisions about the many technological issues involved in daily life, now and in the future.

The leadership of this state and our school districts are aware of this. But we need to help them see the urgency of coordinating all these efforts, whether in colleges, community colleges, K-12 schools, or outreach programs. All are parts of serving the same need. Let’s continue to discuss STEM so we can open doors for understanding, and to highlight the progress and successes of our leaders, teachers, and students in these areas. Let’s find out where amazing partnerships between industry and education are making things happen, and let’s make sure everyone learns about those programs and has the opportunity to see how they might be part of such programs. Let’s create a forum available to everyone so these successes can proliferate.

Who should be the players? Teachers? Administrators? Students? Parents? Businesses? Government leaders? Ordinary citizens whether actively employed or retired? Yes to all of the above and more. Let’s share our successes and help each other work together. Let’s find and address the gaps and problems, together.

I would appreciate your feedback and offers to share your successes. DFSME and the STEM Council are but two of many groups working toward common goals. We can use letters such as this one to tell our stories and identify other like-minded groups to join a growing alliance of groups interested in working for the common cause.

Please feel to write, email or call me at