Teacher Marla Hilderbrand-Chae Earns JSHS Teacher Award
LAWRENCE — Superintendent John Lavoie is pleased to announce that a group of 10th grade STEAM students recently competed and excelled in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia.
The JSHS Program is a science, technology, engineering and math competition that promotes STEM learning at the high school level and recognizes students for outstanding achievement.
GLTS 10th grade STEAM students participated in the regional competition at Boston University on March 28, after Life Sciences teacher Marla Hilderbrand-Chae heard about the event and thought it would be a great opportunity for students to showcase their learning.
Cameron Anderson, of Methuen; Alexis Gonzalez, of Lawrence; Jacob Garcia, of Lawrence; Yasmerlin Ortega, of Lawrence; Benny Nouel, of Lawrence; and Santiago Perez, of Lawrence attended the event and went up against their peers from schools like Boston Latin, Belmont High School, the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI and Boston University Academy.
For their project, students were tasked with using STEAM concepts to answer the question: “How can we help Syrians make medication in a time of war?” To do so, they put themselves in the shoes of Syrian people — thinking about the current civil war, which they first learned about in history class — to determine what would be feasible to create.
They came up with the idea to make a bioreactor from recycled materials that could grow and then deliver medication to those in need. Students worked on all facets of the project in biotech, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and English.
They made the “broth,” which grows algae and bacteria to make the medicinal liquid in biotech, and in electrical engineering, they created a motor that moves the medicine through the device to be administered. The actual building of the contraption occurred in mechanical engineering. Then, in English class, students wrote letters to congressmen and women in Massachusetts to make them aware of the issues unfolding in Syria.
“This project meant a lot to me because I got to figure out ways to help people less fortunate than myself who don’t have the same resources available to them as we do in America,” Gonzalez said. “I really enjoy being in the STEAM program because it allows me to experience several different shops and combine my knowledge from more than one area into projects.”
Although the students didn’t place at the competition, coordinators and judges recognized their impressive presentation skills, their ability to speak fluently about STEAM and their knowledge of the Syrian conflict.
Given the students’ accomplishments, and that Hilderbrand-Chae recognized their ability to compete despite not having a formal university lab to complete their work like their peers, she received the 2019 Southern New England JSHS Teacher Award.
“Marla is an educator who always goes above and beyond to give students opportunities beyond the classroom walls,” said GLTS STEAM Innovation Program Coordinator Panagiota Athinelis. “She is always looking for opportunities to have students learn through experience and frequently brings them outside of school for these experiences, and makes sure that the students get to apply their learning in the real world through projects and inquiry.”
About the GLTS STEAM Innovation Program:
The Science Technology Engineering Arts Math Innovation Program (STEAM) is in its second year of implementation at GLTS and blends the technical thinking of a scientist or engineer with that of an artist or designer.
The program is unique because it fully integrates the career areas of biotechnology and engineering with core academic subjects and music. Students learn technical, academic, and soft skills through working on projects in teams to investigate and find possible solutions to real-world problems.