2021 STEM Excellence Awards

Today, we recognize four supporters of high-quality STEM education as leaders in providing experiences that inspire and educate the next generation of Ohio innovators.

These dedicated educators go above and beyond to advance STEM education in our state. Nominations for the 2021 awards opened in February.

Excellence in STEM Teaching Award

The Excellence in STEM Teaching Award recognizes a teacher who exemplifies integrated, STEM-infused teaching strategies and classroom innovation, and whose work has led to positive student learning outcomes. This awardee engages students in inquiry-based learning to develop creativity, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Tammera Laughlin headshotTammy Laughlin is a Media Specialist at Circleville Elementary in Circlevillle, Ohio.

Tammy consistently seeks to make real world connections to the lessons she teachers. Lessons focused on artificial intelligence in robots, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, bridge design and construction, and 3D printing and using the engineering and design process are just a few of the many engaging units she uses to engage elementary students. Tammy’s approach to learning is centered student needs and interests. She seeks to convey that there are always multiple ways to accomplish a given task and demonstrate learning.

In her STEM class, she seeks to provide students ways to express a variety of different “intelligences” in whatever way fits them.

Excellence in STEM Leadership Award

The Excellence in STEM Leadership Award recognizes a school-level, district, or regional leader with a proven track-record of developing effective STEM programs. This awardee supports and encourages teachers and schools to continually infuse STEM teaching strategies and embrace classroom innovation.

Meg Draeger headshotMeg Draeger is the STEMM Coordinator for Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, Ohio.

She has led the development of a full portfolio of programs at her school including summer camps, a STEMM Idol speaker series, and student involvement in the Toys for God’s Kids and African Photovoltaic Clean Water for Life Projects. Meg connects across all academic departments at the school to advance co-curricular integration across STEMM, STEAM (Art), and STREAM (Religion). Being a female engineer herself, Meg cultivated partnerships for students with the regional Girl Scout Council, the Society of Women Engineers’ local and university sections, the National Society of Black Engineers, and other minority STEM initiatives.

STEM Advocate Award

The Ohio STEM Advocate Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated a passion for STEM education through public advocacy and participation in leadership organizations that advance STEM for all.

Thomas Burnworth headshotThomas Burnworth is the Executive Director of the Sylvania STEM Center in Sylvania, Ohio.

Thomas focuses on bringing industry-level science and technology to student experiences. Through his work, thousands of local young people experience the design cycle. Recently, students in Thomas’s program tackled the Lake Erie Algae Blooms. Students designed, built, and tested a 3D-printed water container that combined UV light and commercial filters. Follow-up testing by a lab at the University of Toledo proved lake water treated by the students’ device was even cleaner than local tap water.

STEM Innovator Award

The Ohio STEM Innovator Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the support of STEM education and outreach within his or her region. This awardee is a leader that identifies, supports, and promotes innovative practices that address important challenges in expanding access to quality STEM education.

Meghan Federer headshotDr. Meghan Federer is Director of STEM Education at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology.

Meghan creates learning experiences for kids and adults, both inside and outside of the museum. Throughout the pandemic, Meghan played a lead role in the development and delivery of free Works@Home STEM activity kits that helped students learn throughout the region. Under Meghan’s leadership, The Works launched its own week-long student design challenge as a part of STEMfest! More than 60 student teams competed in this year’s virtual event, including students from the #STEMpowersOhio Design & Entrepreneurship Challenge.

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