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National Institute of Aerospace educator to speak at SmartTALK

Sharon Wensel Bowers
October 08, 2013

Sharon Wensel Bowers, a distinguished Educator-in-Residence working for the National Institute of Aerospace and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, will join President Roger Casey in conversation for SmartTALK at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 in McDaniel Lounge. The program is free and open to the public.

Bowers has taught science to multiple age groups for more than 30 years, and her work with children earned her recognition as a Secondary Science Presidential Award Winner for Virginia. She is a faculty member for the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy and has been a writer and reviewer for Harcourt Science.

In a partnership between McDaniel College, Carroll County Schools and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), she is developing and teaching five graduate courses at the college that will lead to a certificate in elementary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The McDaniel STEM program is designed to show teachers best practice approaches to integrate STEM topics into classroom learning.

“It’s not just about growing scientists and engineers,” says Bowers, a middle school science teacher “on loan” to NIA from Virginia Beach City Public Schools. “It’s also about helping all children have a level of STEM literacy so that they can better understand their world.”

And it isn’t about content alone, Bowers says. Youngsters need to learn the processes of STEM – to think critically, to solve problems creatively, to gather data and use it to form good arguments.

“Young children have a naturally inquisitive nature,” she says. “But many teachers don’t have a deep comfort in STEM areas. Teachers, and the general public, also need to understand that STEM isn’t an acronym, it’s way to teach and learn.”

As an Educator-in-Residence at NIA, Bowers focuses on developing a variety of educational programs and projects that help prepare teachers to integrate STEM topics into their classroom teaching. Development of the five-course STEM program for McDaniel is just one of her many projects – albeit one that is close to her heart.

“I grew up in Carroll County and still have deep roots here and at McDaniel,” says Bowers, a doctoral candidate in Integrative STEM Education at Virginia Tech University. “For me, this is like coming home.”

In her career, Bowers has received many awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching (NSA), the NASA Honor Award for Special Services, and naming to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She earned a B.A. in Biology and Education and her M.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted, both from McDaniel College.