mySci recognized as STEM education leader

The Institute for School Partnership (ISP) at Washington University in St. Louis gained new recognition for its effective and innovative programming in STEM education.

In May 2014, Spirit of St. Louis held an Air Show and STEM Expo, where performing legends The Blue Angels and interactive displays entertained and informed over 125,000 guests. The event highlighted three major topics: veteran services, aviation and STEM education. As a new participant to the event, the mySci team was excited to engage event attendees with its own STEM display.

Diane Pilla (left) leads Bob Williams, Phil Bissonnette and Laura Bissonnette on a tour of mySci’s Investigation Station. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos

The Investigation Station is a three-room sensory wonder for kids and even parents. Inside, students step into a whole new world, complete with insect displays, real animal pelts and a life-like cave to explore. Chris Cella, a member of the mySci team, explained that some kids that come on the Investigation Station have never even been to a cave and are excited to discover what one looks like and that they exist nearby.

The Investigation Station is an integral part of the mySci program, an initiative launched in 2005 by Washington University with generous funding from the Monsanto Fund. The program seeks to develop the next generation of scientists through hands-on learning materials and cutting-edge written material for teachers. The Investigation Station acts as a supplement, by providing a rich out-of-class learning experience. One mySci team member, Keith May, describes it as a field trip that comes to the students. The Investigation Station is made available by request to any teacher in the St. Louis area.

In order to provide students with this rich, out-of-class experience, the Air Show event began Friday with a field trip, where students put aside the textbooks for a day and participated in hands-on learning with STEM displays created by local organizations and companies. Throughout the weekend, a steady stream of kids and parents learned and engaged at the Investigation Station. However, it was more than just kids and parents who recognized just what mySci accomplished that weekend.

The Spirit of St. Louis Board knew that it wanted to recognize event participants that were advancing the areas of veteran services, aviation and STEM education. The tremendous success of the event allowed them to do just that.

Bob Williams (left) joins in a discussion with SLPS school teacher Nina Harris during a tour of the mySci facilities. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos

The board selected one organization from each of its target areas to support, and mySci was the selection for STEM education. Laura Bissonnette, vice president of the event’s board, stated that when she spoke to others about STEM education in the St. Louis area, mySci’s name kept appearing, and when she decided to explore the ISP deeper, she discovered just how much the organization does for the community.

The ISP is excited to gain another partner in expanding STEM education for students in the St. Louis area. “The addition of the Spirit executive board to our team of partners is so meaningful because it allows us to continue to bring quality educational materials and professional development to our urban schools,” said Executive Director Vicki May. “It allows us to give students a love for learning that will allow them to be successful from elementary to the collegiate level.”