Since 2014, Questar III’s Summer STEM Research Program has placed local secondary school STEM teachers in local businesses, colleges/universities and research facilities to get hands-on experience in areas related to the courses they teach – providing their students a more authentic education and better preparing them for the world they will encounter after graduation.
Nicole Freeman teaches Geometry, Statistics, and Computer Science at Averill Park High School. This is her second year in Questar III’s Summer STEM Research Program and she is working at the NYS Department of Health’s Wadsworth Labs.
Briefly describe your research to someone without a STEM background.
I will be looking at how radioactive material is detected in the environment and trying to not only lower the minimum detection limits, but also to test procedures used to determine the minimum detection levels. This will help me understand the science and statistics involved in court cases about companies polluting the environment with different types of materials and the health hazards related to the emissions.
What made you want to apply for the Summer STEM program?
In order to teach students about STEM in the real world, I wanted to gain experience working outside the walls of a school and outside of education in general. It’s important to be able to answer the question, “How is the knowledge learned in high school and college applied in the real world?”
How do you see this program impacting your instruction and benefiting your students?
I have examples from last year where my students were involved in real business world activities and they discovered hands on what it’s like to work in a STEM field. I hope to do the same thing this year with new experiences in a different area of STEM.
What are you most looking forward to through the program, or what has been the most beneficial experience for you so far?
It is incredible to see how math is connected to other disciplines. At first it seems hard to think of real world projects to do in a Math classroom, but when you look at math as a tool used in science, technology, and engineering, you can see the connections between disciplines, and I hope to open my students’ eyes to this fact.