Beckendorff Junior High teacher named National STEM Scholar

KATY, TX (Covering Katy News) – Bridget McDonald, a seventh grade science teacher at Beckendorff Junior High School, is one of nine teachers from eight states selected to participate in the prestigious National STEM Scholar Program, a unique professional development program that provides cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training, national network building and project support for high school science teachers nationwide.

The National STEM Scholar Program, established in partnership between the National Stem Cell Foundation and the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University, selects teachers each year from a national pool of applicants based solely on the description of a “big idea ‘ Challenge Project the applicant would implement it in his classroom if funds were available.

Selected projects are chosen for maximum impact in high school classrooms, where research shows lifelong STEM career decisions are made. STEM Scholars meet on the WKU campus for a week of advanced STEM training and complete their projects with input from their STEM Scholar colleagues.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a National STEM Scholar and hope my work sparks my students’ interest in STEM subjects, prepares them for real-world challenges, and inspires them for future STEM careers,” said Bridget McDonald . “As a STEM Scholar, you will gain access to networks that can support innovative classroom activities and facilitate connections with other educators, scientists, and STEM professionals. The National STEM Scholar Program supports my goal as an educator to foster creativity, inspire students to to think critically, experiment and develop innovative solutions to problems.”

Gatton Academy will host the 2024 National STEM Scholar class from May 26 to June 1 on the WKU campus in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Research shows that high school students who become excited about science are the ones who take STEM courses in high school and major in them at the technical and college levels.

“At a pivotal moment in decision-making that will open or close the door to opportunity. However, nearly 50% of America’s eighth graders are losing interest in taking the STEM-related subjects increasingly required for 21st century jobs ” a press release said.

“We added education to our mission and partnered with The Gatton Academy in 2015 to support the development of a new generation of scientists in academic research, advanced technology and infrastructure engineering,” said Dr. Paula Grisanti, CEO of the National Stem Cell Foundation. “Supporting teachers who inspire and motivate high school students at this crucial decision-making age will directly impact how many of them choose to pursue the STEM skills essential for living-wage jobs. By investing now in the influential high school STEM teacher, we will reach thousands of students in classrooms today and well into the future.”

“This partnership will benefit the National STEM Scholars, high school students in their classrooms, and the high school science teachers they work with,” said Dr. Julia Link Roberts, Executive Director of The Gatton Academy. “The National STEM Scholar The program is an excellent way for educators to learn new strategies and new ways to engage students and help them get and stay interested in science and math.”

Now in its ninth year, 90 national STEM scientists represent high schools in 35 states. Ninety-one percent teach in public schools, 41% in mid- to high-poverty schools, and 39% in communities under 15,000 residents. A unique requirement of the program is that STEM scientists share lessons learned with colleagues in their home schools, districts or states, amplifying their impact across multiple classrooms and years. By June 2025, National STEM Scholars will have directly and indirectly impacted more than 146,000 high school students in the US.

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