• Nov. 4, 2020

    Teacher secures grant for take-home STEM equipment 

    Dr. Colin Syme Upper St. Clair High School will receive $1,000 in take-home STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research equipment from the Society for Science & the Public. 

    “We hope this equipment is helpful to you and your students in pursuing STEM research projects, despite reduced access to lab equipment this year,” Caitlyn Sullivan, director for outreach and equity programs for Society for Science & the Public, said.

    Dr. Colin Syme, science teacher, applied for the grant after attending the virtual Society for Science & the Public High School Research Teachers Conference in early October.

    “I applied for the grant based on my Honors Laboratory Research And Techniques in Science (LabRATS) class, where I am continually looking for creative, and inexpensive opportunities for research topics to form the basis for a second semester in-class independent research project,” Dr. Syme said. “I developed the curriculum for this course based on my own experiences during my Ph.D., and during my postdoctoral research to provide students with exposure to authentic skills and experiences involved in lab-based research.”

    The grant provides a variety of different kits including:

    • Water-sampling kits – can analyze sample water for eight different test factors including pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and coliform bacteria.
    • Pocket Lab Weather – an all-in-one weather station that can measure temperature, humidity, pressure, altitude, heat index and dew point.
    • Camera Trap – captures daytime and nighttime photos of local wildlife.
    • PowerUp 3.0 – converts any homemade paper airplane to smartphone controlled.
    • Wisconsin Fast Plants – provides seeds and materials to test different parameters.

    “While I will predominantly use these kits in relation to my LabRATS class, they will also be readily accessible to other science teachers,” Dr. Syme said. “These kits will provide students with resources to allow for additional opportunities for authentic, hands-on experiences, and spark interest and curiosity in learners. Students will be able to develop research studies utilizing these resources. Collectively, this will hopefully facilitate students developing real-life skills associated with STEM/STEAM careers.” 

    In 2016, Dr. Syme was one of 200 teachers selected to attend the in-person Research Teachers Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition to the LabRATS course, he teaches Honors Anatomy & Physiology and has also taught biology.

    Society for Science & the Public is a champion for science, dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, effective STEM education and scientific research. The nonprofit membership organization focuses on promoting the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement: to inform, educate, and inspire.