UTeach Alumnus Spotlight

We are featuring UTeach alumni who are doing amazing things in research or their community.Know an alumnus who deserves the spotlight? Let us know here, and they could be featured in an upcoming USEA newsletter. Self-nominations are welcome!

Laura Beck, STEMteach, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Laura BeckWe are thrilled to introduce Laura Beck from STEMteach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF). She is the lead author on an article in The Science Teacher.

I am currently teaching Physics and Earth Science in a 100% Remote Learning Program through the Lincoln Public School System in Lincoln, Nebraska. I recently completed my Master of Science Education in Spring 2021 from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In Summer 2021, I was the lead author on an article titled “Who is Most Affected by COVID-19?” which was published in The Science Teacher. The article is about teaching social justice through StoryMaps and focuses on ways students can use the data from StroyMaps to answer their own research questions, especially as they relate to racial disparities. I also work with the STEP UP program to promote more females in physics.

Miranda Blaser, MonarchTeach, Old Dominion University

Alumnus Miranda BlaserWe are excited to introduce Miranda Blaser from MonarchTeach at Old Dominion University. Miranda will be presenting many of the strategies she learned at the UTeach Conference at her alma mater’s Induction Week

I am currently teaching inclusion geometry at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I plan to present to my fellow alumni a variety of useful online tools for creating interactive slides that could be used in a virtual setting or a contactless face-to-face setting. I also learned engaging math activities to share that can be used in any educational setting such as Arithmetiquities, a mathematical fantasy adventure told through a sequence of pre-algebra story problems.

Ken Suura, UTeach Dallas, University of Texas at Dallas

Alumnus Ken SuuraWe are pleased to introduce Ken Suura from UTeach Dallas at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the student curriculum team lead on the NSF-funded STEM+C physics education project Scaffolded Training Environment for Physics Programming (STEPP) available to classrooms this fall at stepp.utdallas.edu.

I have a M.S. in Physics at UT Dallas (completed in Spring 2020) and an M.A. in Teaching from the Science/Mathematics Education Department at UT Dallas (expected graduation date, Spring 2021). My role on STEPP is to act as the curriculum team student lead as well as the project manager. This involves giving input on design and features for the application alongside current in-service teachers. In addition, I create materials such as practice problems, lesson plans, videos, and curriculum guides for implementation of STEPP. I also work with students and faculty in our field test to ensure STEPP runs as smoothly as possible in the classroom. Lastly, I have given presentations and workshops at conferences like CAST and Mini-CAST to in-service teachers on STEPP and ways STEPP can be used to supplement current physics curriculum. One thing I’d like to add is that I’m actually still a pre-service teacher. I’m currently job hunting which is super exciting!

Miranda Mellen, STEMteach, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Alumnus Miranda MellenWe are delighted to introduce Miranda Mellen from STEMteach at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls (UWRF). Her article will appear in an upcoming edition of NSTA’s Science Teacher Idea Bank

I am currently teaching at Portage High School in Portage, WI, and teach biology. My article "Bringing Literacy into the Biology Classroom using Story Progressions" is about how I incorporate story writing into my classroom to help students review and learn different biological processes. Essentially, Story Progressions give students a list of terms in a specific order related to a biological process. The students need to create a story, using those terms in that order, that explains how that process works. For example, they write a story that explains how cell division works using the terms given to them. The article goes into detail about what a Story Progression is, how I use them in my classroom, and ways to adapt the Story Progressions to fit the needs of different learners.