Since 2014, Questar III’s Summer STEM Research Institute 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.
Sam Ziebel teaches Chemistry at North Colonie CSD and is spending the summer working at the NYS DOH Wadsworth Lab researching environmental effects of nitrous acid. This is his second year in the program.
Briefly describe your research to someone without a STEM background.
I am researching the amounts of substances that create the pollutant nitrous acid in the atmosphere. Nitrous acid quickly decomposes in sunlight to create other greenhouse gases and oxidizers, as well as contributes to ocean acidification and acid rain, so even in low amounts, it can have huge environmental effects.
What made you want to apply for the Summer STEM program?
Being a new teacher, I loved the opportunity to build my curriculum, learn about resources available to me, and network with more teachers during the summer.
How do you see this program impacting your instruction and benefiting your students?
Working in this program has shown me how important soft skills that students can learn in any STEM class are important in the classroom – research skills, communication/teamwork, and problem solving have all played a role in my summer. These are skills that students need to succeed in school, and can take with them as they graduate, no matter what field they enter.
What are you most looking forward to through the program, or what has been the most beneficial experience for you so far?
I am looking forward to using the unit I have been constructing with my students – it will give me a great opportunity to tell the students about the businesses out in the local area, and show them that the materials in our lessons have value after school ends.