• Millennium educator wins national award | News
    Math Club and Olympiad

    Millennium educator wins national award | News

    Millennium High School’s David Wirth has been named the 2021 National Physics Teacher of the Year.

    The award, presented by PhysTEC, an association of institutions dedicated to improving and promoting K-12 physics and physical science teacher education, referred to Wirth’s classroom and teaching abilities as “inspirational.”

    “I was nominated for the award by professors from Arizona State University, and I won the Local Teacher of the Year award,” Wirth said.

    “I was excited about that, but then I realized that I won the National Teacher Award. I was both shocked and humbled. I know some great physics teachers, and to be even considered at that same level is an honor.”

    A 29-year teacher, Wirth advocates for science at Millennium, as he started a Science Olympiad club on campus to provide further opportunities with STEM. Wirth also challenges his students to build applicable Science Olympiad projects in class and then compete at the state level. 

    Wirth has been a teacher at Millennium for about 20 years and said the community feeling on campus is unmatched. 

    “I really enjoy the people,” he said. “The community has some pretty amazing families, and they send some fantastic students to our high school. The kids we get are well-rounded, respectful and they have a desire to learn, and working with those kids is amazing.”

    Wirth has played a major role in the development and growth of the physics department at Millennium, according to Principal Todd Stevens.

    “Mr. Wirth’s passion for physics is contagious. His innovative teaching methods have inspired students to explore math and science,” Stevens said. “Mr. Wirth brings excitement to our campus. He has provided numerous STEAM opportunities for students with the Science Olympiad Club, Physics Bowl and Physics Photo Contest. His efforts are definitely guiding our students to study science in college and pursue it as a career path.”

    Wirth has earned more than $50,000 in grants for classroom equipment, all to instill a passion for science in his students. 

    It’s safe to say he was successful in doing so, as Wirth’s physics enrollment has quadrupled, and Wirth said he can see his students’ confidence with the material and themselves skyrocket.

    “I use the modeling methods. It was developed at ASU, and the idea is you just don’t give students a formula itself,” Wirth said. “The modeling method has students develop the formulas or models themselves. So, the students will perform a lab, they’ll collect data, analyze the data and develop models, then use the models to solve problems. It develops a much deeper level of learning.”

    Outside of Millennium’s campus, aside from prioritizing his wife, two children and two grandchildren, Wirth is passionate about physics and physics education.  

    Wirth co-founded STEMCon, an annual districtwide expo that drew nearly 1,000 students to explore science and math in 2020. He also participated in the “I am a Scientist” campaign to provide his students with role models in the science field. 

    He is working with Jeff Andretti on writing curriculum materials for a new middle school STEM program that integrates modeling techniques. The program will go national later this year. 

    While Wirth is proud of the award and recognition, he said he plans to continue his work to build a platform for students to discover a better understanding and passion for physics. 

    “It’s a fun job, a lot of satisfaction, not just physics but teaching students how to think. It’s satisfying helping the students to better understand the world around them, and that nature has some really cool relationships that are really fun to understand,” Wirth said. 

    “Just challenge the students, get them to think and get them to go to a higher level and realize that their learning can be fun. It’s not just about a grade. It’s about learning something new and challenging yourself.” 

  • Coding, robotics edu begin for 20k Class VI-VIII kids | Goa News
    Coding and Robotics

    Coding, robotics edu begin for 20k Class VI-VIII kids | Goa News

    Panaji: Around 400 government and aided high schools in the state have begun introducing the new coding and robotics programme for close to 20,000 students from Class VI to VIII. Approximately 540 school computer teachers across the state are involved in teaching the programme. It is the first robotics syllabus to be formally taught in schools in any state in the country.
    The syllabus is also unique because it has not been designed and imposed on the teachers to be taught, but has been framed by a team of school computer teachers themselves. The syllabus is based on a broad guideline provided by a panel of the State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT).
    A teacher said that the new programme is not only about teaching students coding and robotics, but using information and communication technology (ICT) education as a tool to improve their understanding of other subjects. The entire ICT syllabus for Classes VI to VIII has been revamped and students spend a minimum of one hour a week learning the new course for now.
    Project director for ‘Chief minister’s coding and robotics education in schools scheme’ or CM-CARES, Vijay Borges said that the state is in the process of floating tenders to upgrade computer labs in schools for the scheme at a cost of around Rs16 crore.
    “In the first year only for the year 2021 as the scheme is being introduced for the first time, the Class VI syllabus will be introduced to students in Class VI, VII and VIII. During the next academic year the 2021-22 Class VI batch will enter Class VII and learn the advanced syllabus designed for Class VII. Similarly the students from Class VII in 2021-22 will progress to the syllabus of Class VIII during the next academic year. This is to ensure phased implementation,” said Borges.
    The teachers have also prepared evaluation rubrics (scoring tool) so that students can be assessed not by allotting marks, but by noting the skill-sets that they have acquired through the programme.
    “The aim is not to make all students coders and get them into robotics. It is about using coding and robotics as a tool to augment learning of other subjects. We also have a learning management system which allows us to monitor implementation of the programme in all schools, including remote ones. Also we have used all open source tools for the programme without acquiring them at a cost,” said Borges.
    A teacher at Progress High School, Panaji, Maya Kamat said that she is amazed by the enthusiastic response from students. “In the earlier syllabus for computer education we used to teach them applications like Paint, Note. Now they are learning games which improve their understanding of other subjects like English, Science. I can see the confidence in the children going up. I am surprised how I take them through the concept just once and they are going beyond,” said Kamat.
    The entire module comprises of 35 lesson plans of which teachers have been trained at present to teach 20. The scheme will be implemented in a phased manner over five years.

  • CHS receives Seal of Biliteracy; Second consecutive year for national honor | Local News
    Bilingual Education

    CHS receives Seal of Biliteracy; Second consecutive year for national honor | Local News

    For the second consecutive year, the Seal of Biliteracy has been awarded to students at Cleburne High School who have obtained fluency in two or more languages by graduation and met the academic standards required for the national recognition.

    The recipients, all 2021 graduates, include Michelle Cruz, Ashley Hernandez, Tamara Reyes, Sandra Solis, Kevin Duran, Juan Mares Ramirez, Yaritza Rojas, Ashley Vega-Enamorado, Arlett Garcia, Gisell Ortiz, Jose Sanchez, Denisse Garcia, Sydney Pioquinto, Rhadja Silva and Brenda Zamora Chavez. 

    To be eligible for the award designation, students had to maintain a B average throughout high school, pass their English I and English II End of Course exams and achieve a score of 3 or higher on an advanced placement test in an upper level foreign language course. Among the honorees, six were members of the 2021 Top Ten Percent, including Zamora Chavez who was valedictorian.

    “The Seal of Biliteracy is a national award that has been adopted by the state, with the Texas Education Agency setting the criteria,” said Christy Burton, CISD director of World Languages. “We felt in implementing the Seal of Biliteracy initiative at the high school it would be a good opportunity for our students, in recognizing them for their unique skills. They have mastered biliteracy, bilingualism and multiculturalism, which are the three pillars within bilingual education. It is a statement of accomplishment for both college admissions and future employment. 

    The Seal of Biliteracy designation is included on the graduate’s transcript and an actual seal on their diploma. 

    “Despite the challenges of COVID, our number of honorees grew from 10 in 2019-20 to 15 this year,” Burton said. “I credit our teachers in the CHS Foreign Language Department for the important role they provided in the achievements of these students. They seek out students to take on the level of academic commitment required for the Seal of Biliteracy, and encourage them as they work toward the achievement. These teachers amaze me with their level of dedication.”

    Silva, who was among the academic leaders within the Class of 2021, came to Cleburne from Brazil. When she enrolled as a fourth-grader at Santa Fe Elementary School, Portuguese was her first — and only language.

    “It was so terrifying,” Silva said. “It was hard to be in a place where I was not understood, and didn’t know what people were saying to me or about me.”

    The Santa Fe staff, led by her bilingual teacher Marcia Byrd, a fellow native of Brazil whose first language is also Portuguese, worked quickly to take the “terror” out of Silva’s transition to Texas. At the end of the school day, English as a Second Language Specialist Amy Easter would take over as Silva used Rosetta Stone language software to build on her mastery of a second language.

    “I knew it was necessary for me to learn English,” Silva said. “In Brazil, we learned some English — the colors, the names of animals — but that was far from learning a whole new language.”

    By the second half of her fifth-grade year, Silva reached a major milestone in her pursuit of English. She attributes her drive and determination, coupled with the support she received from Byrd.

    “I think by the middle of fifth grade I was bilingual,” she said. “Everything just clicked. By the fifth grade I could have a normal conversation in English with anyone, while still speaking Portuguese at home. My determination to learn played a big part. I was trying so hard to speak in English — and understand. It took a lot of perseverance. Mrs. Byrd was my teacher, but also a great comfort to me. She was someone who understood my circumstances. Thanks to her, I also began learning Spanish.”

    By the time she was in high school, Silva was showing her proficiency in her third language, in making a perfect score on the Spanish 4 AP exam.

    “I was real proud of myself for that,” she said. “In learning English, then Spanish, I had to try harder, and be more determined — but that helped me get where I am. Receiving the Seal of Biliteracy made me think back to the fourth grade and that early struggle to learn English. This award gave me such a feeling of accomplishment.”  

    In addition to finishing in the Top Ten Percent, Silva was president of Rotary International’s Interact Club for high school students, served as parliamentarian of National Honor Society and was president of National Spanish Honor Society. Silva competed three years on the Showstoppers Dance Team, serving as captain as a senior. 

    She also achieved her certified nurse aide state certification as a health sciences student in the CHS Career and Technical Education program. Silva is now living in College Station and about to begin her first semester at Texas A&M University, where she is double majoring in biology and Spanish, with a minor in pre-med. She is also working as a CNA on the surgical floor at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center.  

    “Adding the Seal of Biliteracy national recognition is a reflection of the opportunities we want to make available to students in CISD,” Burton said. “As students’ transition from the 50/50 dual language model, this is the final milestone in their bilingual journey that starts in kindergarten.

    “With the numbers we are seeing in our dual language program, and how it is expanding to middle school, it ensures our students will be able to participate and achieve in high school, including the rigors of advanced placement courses,” Burton said. “It’s also exciting in hearing from bilingual teachers interested in our district and what we are doing in our two-way dual language initiative.”

     

     

  • Lowndes STAR student, teacher named | Local News
    Math Club and Olympiad

    Lowndes STAR student, teacher named | Local News

    VALDOSTA – Lowndes High School has named Bryson Bennett as 2021 STAR student. 

    The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development, school officials said in a statement. 

    To obtain the 2021 STAR nomination, graduating high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10% or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. 

    Bennett qualified with a score of 1500 on a single test date.

    He chose Daniel Drummond as his STAR teacher. 

    “I chose Mr. Drummond as STAR teacher because he embodies what it means to be a good teacher,” Bennett said. “Mr. Drummond invested in us as students. He worked just as hard as we did to make sure we could all succeed. Mr. Drummond gave us the freedom to be creative and do things our own way. He was also innovative and used out-of-the-box examples and demonstrations to make learning easier. Mr. Drummond created a positive learning environment, where despite students’ differences; we all worked together for the betterment of each other.”

    Drummond said, “Bryson is one of the smartest and most inquisitive students I have ever taught. There are tons of brilliant students but what sets him apart is the genuine curiosity he shows for learning new concepts. He never stopped at the minimum expected, but instead, Bryson routinely tried to expand and incorporate other knowledge into current lessons and assignments. He showed his character and work ethic when he continued to work just as hard after the COVID shut down last year. Not only did I teach Bryson but I also saw him learn and grow through Mu Alpha Theta and the math team. Both in the classroom and out, Bryson was always willing to help out anyone that needed it. Bryson’s hard work is and will continue to pay off.”

    Bennett has been active at Lowndes High School during the past four years. He is a member of the Lowndes High Georgia Bridgemen, the math team and the Mu Alpha Theta Math Club, the Science Olympiad/Club, and the Beta Club. He was also an AP Scholar and a National Merit commended scholar.

    Bryson plans to major in computer systems engineering at the University of Georgia. He will pursue a career in software engineering, school officials said.

  • Math whiz, student surveyor, star-gazer – School News Network
    Math Club and Olympiad

    Math whiz, student surveyor, star-gazer – School News Network

    Name: Shambhabi Gautam
    School: Forest Hills Eastern High
    Jam: STEM, especially math and astronomy

    Forest Hills — This Eastern High School sophomore, a STEM standout and astronomy buff, developed a math survey this year to learn what areas her peers struggle with most. Programs to address what she found have already started.

    How old were you when this became something you wanted to pursue, and what’s the story there? “My love for math started around fourth grade,” Shambhabi said. “I was one of the fastest kids in class to finish this online game called Extra Math, (and) that was when I really discovered my thrill of solving problems.” Enrolling in the after-school Kumon learning program “definitely took my math skills to the next level, and definitely influenced my high school career a lot. 

    Her bottom line where math is concerned: “Getting a problem and finding the answer is really satisfying. It makes me feel super-accomplished when I come up with a finite answer, like when other students finish a book or a drawing.”

    As for her love of astronomy, that came out of a visit with her dad to Veen Observatory in Lowell Township when Shambhabi was in sixth grade. She still remembers “the little lights” that lined the uphill path they traveled after dusk, and getting to look through telescopes at Venus and Mars. “It was just amazing to me that we can see things that are so far away. There’s much more to astronomy than dots in the sky.”

    Shambhabi next to her sign on the grounds at Eastern High to honor all varsity tennis players (courtesy)

    A few related accomplishments: This year, her Science Olympiad team took a regional competition first-place award in astronomy — their project was on galaxy evolution — and third place in designer genes. “That’s more genetics and how DNA is replicated,” Shambhabi explained. She also was accepted to work under Michigan State University research professor Wolfgang Kerzendorf. Her task: “analyzing stellar data we got from telescopes. We were studying a supernova remnant called Cas A. We’ve been working on that for a few months. I feel like, right now, I’m just starting my journey in research.”

    Eastern High Principal Amy Pallo is particularly effusive about Shambhabi’s math survey conducted this year. Its origins: in ninth grade, Shambhabi explained, her math teacher handed back a quiz she scored quite well on, but many of her classmates did not. 

    “That really bugged me, seeing other people struggle. I wanted (to create) a platform where people didn’t feel shy about saying where they struggled, and felt comfortable getting help.”

    Pallo helped connect her with all Eastern High math teachers, who asked their students in February to take the survey Shambhabi created. Resources and online and in-person assistance — often from students who volunteered to help — is already underway. 

    Is there a teacher or teachers who have had a big impact on your involvement in this? Taking chemistry and AP biology and physics classes this year, thanks to her counselor, Mitchell Blink. “He let me take pre-calculus as a freshman; he believed in me and knew I could handle it.” Though she admits with a laugh, “He was a little skeptical at first.” 

    When it comes to influential math teachers, she said, “Honestly, all the ones I have had so far, but Mr. (Dan) Morley in particular believed in me as a freshman and helped me start a math club and let me take charge. He knew I was not only a good student academically, but I could be a responsible leader and get things done.”

    Do you plan to pursue this professionally? “I definitely know that I am going to go into STEM, because I love science. I just know that I am going to use my math skills and apply them to genetics and biology. I see myself leading research projects, whether that is in space or in our cells.”

    The biggest lesson you have learned from your involvement in this is… The importance of looking at the bigger picture, but also (as in research), of studying individual responses and categorizing general trends. 

    “I also realized I have to persevere, and run through trial and error. The first proposal will never be perfect.” And finally: “self-motivation is key to doing anything, especially during a time like COVID. As the internet gets more integrated into society the possibilities get greater, but it also means distractions get greater too.”

    Other hobbies/interests: Shambhabi plays flute in Eastern’s wind ensemble, and is a drum major and leader. She’s also a junior black belt in karate, and is on the varsity tennis team. “And I’m a big watcher of anime.” 

    Speaking of: If you walked into your school building to theme music, what would the song be? The theme music from the anime “Fairy Tail.” “It has sentimental value,” she said. “It was the first song I learned to play on the piano, and the first song I played at the talent show at my middle school.”