Susan Miller is a teacher at White Oaks PS in London. As an educator, Susan knows the
importance of teaching students about STEM because it mirrors skills such as perseverance, critical thinking and creativity that they will need as adults. Whether a child moves on to a career in STEM or not, the foundations of these experiences will be essential to their success, especially in a world that is changing so rapidly.
When Susan received a flyer from STEM Camp Foundation in her mailbox, she jumped at the opportunity to apply for a grant that would provide a more enriching science fair experience for her students. Through the application process, she met Ron Cougler, the Executive Director of STEM Camp. She was awarded the grant at the end of September 2019.
“He brought the cheque directly to our school and we subsequently asked him to be involved in our school wide science fair. Ron listened attentively to many of our students explain their work and took an active role in helping us choose the winning projects that would represent White Oaks at the London District level,” Susan said. “My interests in providing STEM opportunities to students align perfectly with the Foundation’s goals of providing teachers with the resources to do this.”
The grant covered the cost of 30 microbits for Susan’s 6th Graders. Microbits are very powerfulbut cost effective computers that allow students to innovate their own ideas by adding LEDs, servo motors and radio functions using any devices to complete programming blocks, including Chromebooks and Ipads.
Susan explained, “As it turned out, they have provided our students with more than the original concept. They were used to integrate French class with coding, explore math concepts such as distance and time and allow motivated students to explore their passions through special interest projects.”
Since 2018, STEM Camp Foundation, which is financed solely by STEM Camp, has been
awarding grants to elementary teachers. For Susan Miller, the relationship with STEM Camp Foundation blossomed well beyond the classroom. Today, she sits on the board of directors at SCF.
As for her role as an educator, Susan most enjoys that there is always a problem waiting to be solved, and a chance to be creative and learn in the process.
“It might be how to engage a child who seems unreachable or how to create a program with choice and engagement for students that still meets the curriculum requirements,” she said.
From building relationships to solving technical problems, one thing is for certain, teaching is always a challenge.
“Sometimes it is creating a reciprocal learning environment where even the most unlikely of personality mixes can move each other forward.”