Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spotlight on STEM

After writing my "ASCA Was Spicy" post and sharing my STEM presentation, I was delighted to be contacted by Marissa Zych, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Marissa is working to increase awareness of nonprofit organizations that support STEM initiatives for younger students. I am so excited to have her guest post and share some information and resources with school counselors that we can use at our individual school levels!   
Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math subjects, most commonly known as  
STEM, have been the focus of many school districts and education initiatives in recent years. As the statistics surrounding STEM continue to grow more alarming, nonprofits and educators are working together to build a base that provides students the groundwork needed to succeed within these fields.

Currently, nineteen nations have high school students performing better in science than those within United States, and 36 percent of high school students within the US are not ready for college-level sciences. To further expand upon these discrepancies, 36 percent of students that declare a major within the STEM specialities do not obtain a degree within these fields, and only one-third of bachelor degrees obtained in the United States are within the STEM fields, compared to China (53%) and Japan (63%).
Though these statistics are startling, teachers and nonprofits alike are focused on creating resources to increase proficiency within these fields. Nonprofits nationwide provide much-needed complements to the regular school day activities and lessons. These programs have the ability to continue to expand upon the education that students obtain within school, providing resources and continued growth within specific subjects that would otherwise be unattainable. For many kids, they can even help provide the motivation to finish high school and find their passion for continuing education.

There are a multitude of nonprofits that build upon what is taught within the classroom and assist teachers. Based in Chicago, IL,
STEM CampUS is a week-long immersion summer camp that brings together students interested STEM careers. Students are able to meet with Teza Technologies employees, and participate in a mentorship program with STEM professionals. This program is created by After-School All-Stars, whose mission is to provide comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life. STEM CampUS was created with the support of Teza Technologies CEO Misha Malyshev, and this nonprofit is focused on providing an immersive high-school transition program, while also bringing together students interested in the STEM field together to experience and explore STEM careers.

Another nonprofit that assists students interested in the STEM field is AspireIT, a nonprofit founded by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). NCWIT uses a peer-to-peer model to educate young women in computing to help correct the imbalance of gender diversity in technology. This outreach program connects high school and college students with young students interested in learning the fundamentals in programming and computational thinking.  Check out their video below!

AspireIT Promo Spring 2014 from NCWIT on Vimeo.

Though the AspireIT program targets high school students, NCWIT also offers resources for K-12 education, such as
e-Textiles-in-a-Box. This resource helps teach young students about electronics and computing, while also providing a fun activity.

There are a plethora of additional resources that aid teachers within the classroom. To educate students about what life is like for a girl within the STEM fields, look to Engineer Girl. This comprehensive website showcases why one should become an engineer, while also outlining specific skills and resources needed to work in these fields. Their current "Featured Interview" is on Kalyani Mallela, an electrical engineer at Starkey Hearing Technologies. In addition, NASA created a webpage that celebrates the women that work there. Women @ NASA provides personal stories and the path that these women took to get to NASA. All of these websites provide resources that can be used within the classroom to highlight STEM fields and the people within them, and allow students to learn about real-world application of these subjects.

Within the education field, nonprofits target a variety of subjects to allow for growth and advancement specifically within certain sectors. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are a key target to many nonprofits. Utilizing the base that the education system constructs, nonprofits allow for continued education and provide advancements within specific fields. With these resources, one hopes that we can continue to increase the proficiency in science throughout the United States.
                                                                                           ~ Marissa
*Marissa can be reached at if you would like to contact her with any questions. Infographic above from

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


It has been 12 days since the ASCA Conference wrapped up in Phoenix, and I am just now getting a chance to reflect about my top "spicy" moments during my days there (house hunting, family reunions, and Fourth of July vacations are time consuming!!).  Although nothing will probably ever live up to my first ASCA conference experience with #FLOTUS Michelle Obama's surprise appearance (reminisce with me here), there were some great moments to be had in the 112 degree Phoenix weather. Here are my top 5:

5.  Keynote by Tim Shriver:  From the moment Mr. Shriver walked on the stage, you could sense his passion for Special Olympics and his desire for all to create inclusive environments in school, sports, and beyond.  His keynote was particularly thought provoking for me because I started to think more about the self-contained classrooms I have interacted with at my different schools and the many additional interventions I could have done for those students with disabilities.  The highlight of this speech was when Mr. Shriver brought up a group of Special Olympics participants from Kellis High School in Arizona, and they taught us how to do their school dance, the Cougar Dance. All of the school counselors in the audience were encouraged to dance along with them "like no one was watching"  and boy did we!  We looked totally ridiculous, but it was such a touching moment to feel the students' enthusiasm and share it with them.  Check out the Go Pro video I took of our groove session for a laugh!

4.  Counseling with HeART session:  
I love art and especially love getting new
ideas of how I can incorporate art into my individual and group counseling sessioons.  Julie Ford from Oregon did not disappoint! I walked away with about 25 new ideas of activities I can use with students.  My favorites, including one of my live tweets during her session, were:
*Using masks to help kids talk about feelings within or behind the mask.
*Creating vision boards to help kids with goal setting.
*Working on mandalas with students as part of relaxation exercises and concentration/focus activities.
*Allowing students to match colors to their feelings and then creating a heart drawing that represents what fraction of each feeling is inside them at any given time.

3.  Tweet Up with my Social Media Friends:  My social media friends were in full effect at the second annual "Tweet Up".  Susan Spellman Cann (@SSpellmanCann), Bridget Helms (@bridgethelms), JanD-M (@humbleofferings) and Carol Miller (@tmscounselor) did a fantastic job of organizing everything and incorporating tons of cute details at the meet up.  From passing out FB group buttons, creating a "Tweet Up" bingo game, taking inspirational quote pics, and snapping a group photo, it was a total blast!! Check out the collage I made of our activities.

Susan also made this great Storify project to capture our time together.

2.  "Full STEM Ahead" Conference Presentation:  I want to give a shout out to all the speakers at the conference who took a risk, put themselves out there to share knowledge with our counseling community, and spent part of their conference giving back to others.  It is a lot of extra work to present at the conference, but I love connecting with other counselors and hearing their feedback.  This year I focused on the STEM interventions I have done at my elementary the past two years.  From STEM Career Cafe speakers to Genius Hour to classroom lessons, it has been a blast exposing my students to the STEM careers of the future.  You can access my presentation handout here. Be sure to email me if you have any questions at  A few of my STEM resources are posted at my TPT store, and I hope to add a couple more over the next month (in-between moving..ha!).  Also, I am super excited to have a guest blogger for my next post who is going to share additional resources and another perspective on incorporating STEM with your students! Stay tuned.....

1.  RAMP Recognition Dinner: To my fellow ambitious RAMP seekers, hang in there; there is a light at the end of the tunnel. RAMP is a big undertaking, and it requires a lot of organization and time, especially if you are the only person at  your school working on it (I'm talking to you elementary counselors).  However, if once you earn the RAMP designation, it will be worth it. I cannot tell you how special I felt being dressed up, eating great food and drinking wine, and walking across that stage to pose for pictures and accept the RAMP award for my school.  It is a career highlight that I will always remember and appreciate, and I barely remember the HOURS of work that went into my portfolio at this point.  Keep working hard, you will get there!! I was also super proud to be with some of my fantastic former mentors, other NC awardees, and state board colleagues who truly make our profession great  (see pic below)!

I hope if any of my blog readers attended ASCA this summer you will also share a highlight you experienced at the conference in the comments section.  Also, a huge congratulations to Carey Hughes for being the book giveaway winner from my last post.  I even got to meet her in person at the conference before she was chosen randomly through my raffle app.  I hope you enjoy the book, Carey!!

Happy summer and happy counseling! ~Angela
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