STEM Tag

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Yichien Cooper, adjunct professor of teaching and learning at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is showing the world that arts education is more than the creation of physical and digital media through her work in growing international partnerships across the globe.

Yichien Cooper and teachers from STEAM workshop in Hong Kong

Yichien Cooper and teachers from STEAM workshop in Hong Kong

Cooper traveled to Asia this summer to create and build upon international partnerships in arts education where she presented at conferences and provided workshops in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. During these presentations, she worked with arts educators and researchers from around the world, discussing ways to bridge gaps in arts education. She said instilling arts-based academic programming among STEM-based programming is critical to growing a students’ problem-solving and innovative ability.

“Art isn’t just art,” she said. “It is the confluence of ideas that come from many different experiences and knowledge that one obtains throughout their life. When applied to subjects like science and engineering, for example, that is when products and initiatives develop that continue to change the world.”

Leading by example

Cooper said many Asian nations are now trying to catch up on American standards for pairing the arts with technical and science-based academics. The United States, she said, began a focused philosophy to include arts with STEM fields, combining the old “STEM” acronym to make “STEAM.”

She said countries in Asia have witnessed the successes of companies ranging from Microsoft, to Apple, to scientific and medical firms that have

As an invited speaker for the 2017 InSEA World Congress, Cooper gave a talk on “Building A Sustainable Creative City through Art with Social Purposes: An Autoethnographic Account of Being an Arts Commissioner.” She talked about how one discovers identity and sense of self through the planning and development of public arts.

taken the world by storm by means of developing products and apparatuses that originated out of creative real-world problem-solving.

“What research has shown is that with the introduction of arts concepts among these technical fields, children thrive in their creative product development, their teamwork ability and their ability to think long-term to come up with creative solutions to real-world problems,” she said. “It’s a tool that is effective in bridging across curricular areas and improving learning.”

Cooper said other countries are emphasizing how arts can enrich students’ learning. With the popularity of STEAM education, they are looking up to what American students are able to accomplish through that creative process.

“They want to collaborate and implement those strategies within their own schools,” she said.

Presenting to countries across Asia

During her travels in Asia, Cooper gave a range of presentations focusing on how to incorporate the arts into various academic fields.

One of her presentations focused on integrating arts at Washington State University Tri-cities, providing highlights from her upcoming Chinese book, “The Power of Integration” which will be out in November in China. During another presentation, Cooper talked about her work partnering with local schools in the Tri-Cities to develop their arts programming in combination with STEM curriculum. Cooper also spoke about her journey as an art advocator in Richland at the 36th International Society for Education Through Art World Congress in Daegu, Korea..

Cooper (second from right) with some participants during her STEAM presentation in Foshan, China, where she conducted a three-day workshop on STEAM. The participants were asked to apply simple machinery in a craft design Displayed in the photos, participants showcase an octopus head dress where the wearer pulls strings to move all tentacles.

Cooper spoke to educators and individuals from various industries on improving visual literacy and research through data visualization. As the chair of the data visualization working group for the National Art Education Association Research Commission, she said it is important to create visual representations of information that is easy and accessible for all to understand and ingest, making it more accessible to the non-technical expert in that field.

Cooper also conducted hands-on workshops that were organized by the Art Education Research Institute in Taiwan, Art Education Training Center at Foshan in China, and the Hong Kong Society of Education in Art.

Further, Cooper used her experience abroad to build partnerships with local students overseas. She worked with teachers at Shang-Shi Elementary School in Taiwan, where both groups hope to partner to develop joint curriculum for arts education.

“We could have the students in Taiwan showing our American students what their art and arts curriculum looks like and our American students can share with them what art looks like in America,” she said. “Our ultimate challenge is the time difference, so we might go for a video-based route and exchange videos, as well as talk about each other’s daily life and how they are similar and different.  Shang-Shi strives to provide global education to children’s life, being able to assist them finding opportunities for students only shows that we are living in a global village.”

Looking toward the future of arts education

As the Acting President of World Chinese Art Education Association, Cooper will organize the International Society for Education Through Art Asia Regional Congress in 2018 in Hong Kong with colleague Solan Wong, of the Education University of Hong Kong, and Kaitak Kwong, president of the Hong Kong Society of Education in Art.

Focusing on collaborative efforts to sustain greater arts education community, she said the conference aims to welcome groups from throughout Asia and south-east Asia. The congress will focus on the theme of “challenges and transformations,” or CT for short in connection to the type of body scan, and the goal will be to evaluate the next steps for arts education and embracing challenges within current educational systems.

“So many countries individually write their teaching standards, training standards and curriculum,” she said. “The fact that we can come together and work collaboratively and share ideas is a huge win for education. We all have a common goal that is focusing not only on the immediate results for our students, but the long-term value of their education. That is a good change.”

Cooper said it is true that many schools across the world have slowly began to narrow their scope on art, but through these types of international partnerships, arts associations around the globe hope that individuals will see the value and significance of arts in education, especially when combined with the traditional STEM fields.

“We need to make art visible,” she said. “Art brings people together. It transcends gender, age and physical boundaries and it’s an important part of a student’s education.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities, in partnership with the Pasco School District, was awarded a $500,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program grant to enhance before and after school programming at several elementary schools in Pasco.

The purpose of the federal grant is to support the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during nonschool hours. The program also provides support to families to increase family literacy and involvement within the school.

“This award is especially exciting because there were only nine grants awarded within the entire state, and this grant had one of the highest dollar amounts awarded,” said Jay Scott, director of 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Funds will support enhancing before and after school programming at Emerson Elementary School, Longfellow Elementary School, Rowena Chess Elementary School and Virgie Robinson Elementary School, all of which are in the Pasco School District.

Some examples of topics that could be implemented in the after school programs include: drama, chess, homework help, LEGO Robotics, archery, Minecraft, field trips, fire safety, rocketry and English language learning programs. The schools also will provide a four-week summer program focusing on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
“All of these programs would provide additional extracurricular and supplemental support for current classroom curriculum focuses,” Scott said.

WSU Tri-Cities will provide the space for summer programming for all four sites, in addition to providing general oversight of the programming and grant funding use and allocation.
For more information on the grant program, visit http://www.k12.wa.us/21stCenturyLearning/.

Contacts:
Jay Scott, director, WSU 21st Century Community Learning Centers, jscott@earlyoutreach.wsu.edu
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333, Maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray

Martin Klotz, the new Washington State University Tri-Cities vice chancellor of academic affairs, hopes to focus on the university’s unique strengths to meet the needs of not only the Tri-Cities regional community, but also the state and nation.

A microbiologist and academic by profession, Klotz said what he likes most about WSU Tri-Cities is that it has its own unique focal points within the WSU system that serve to meet a greater need in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields – all while maintaining a base in the liberal arts.

“We have many focus points that are unique to WSU Tri-Cities, from our Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory, to our world-class wine science center, to what we offer through our nursing and medical programs,” he said. “Environmental health is big in this area because of the Hanford Site and other related areas, and agriculture and food processing continue to grow. There is a need for managing the business aspects of those fields and there is also an engineering application that is crucial for many of these areas. Educators provide training at all levels of their profession, ranging from teaching in public schools to leadership in higher education, public officiating and industry.”

Klotz comes to WSU Tri-Cities from Queens College, City University of New York, in Flushing, New York, where he was dean of faculty for the division of mathematics and natural sciences and professor of biology. Prior to that, Klotz held academic positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he served as professor and chair of the department of biological sciences, the University of Louisville in the departments of biology and microbiology and immunology and the University of Colorado Denver in the department of biology.

For most of his career, Klotz directed his evolutionary and genomic microbiology laboratory to study the molecular underpinnings of ammonia- and methane-oxidizing bacteria, with an interest in the metabolic reconstruction of key catabolic pathways, the evolutionary history of involved inventory and how this inventory is being regulated. His research has been funded by federal and state grants agencies in excess of $4 million. He also contributed to the editing of three books on nitrogen cycle research and is an author and co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles.

Klotz said one of the greatest needs in the world today is to secure global health, which extends to a number of academic areas at WSU Tri-Cities. He said this is not only due to the need for more scientists, physicians and health professionals, but also out of a need for academic study, research development and product development for all areas of the field.

“We have a system-wide nursing program and our new medical school, but the question is what are the additional opportunities in allied health professions for this campus and how do we get there?” he said. “Our health is not only determined by what happens on the inside of our bodies, but also what happens on the outside in the environment. One of the main industries of Washington state is agriculture, but it is also a major polluter and extractor of resources. It is an opportunity, responsibility and a challenge at the same time. It is really an opportunity that waits to be harnessed.”

Klotz said WSU Tri-Cities needs to identify basic areas that will feed into all of these opportunities.

“One of these basic areas is in the biological sciences, and particularly, microbiology, because it will feed into existing strength in bioengineering, agriculture and wine science, and it is a foundational discipline for academic programs and training with a focus on human and environmental health,” he said.

Klotz said he also intends to focus on growing needs for mathematics, statistics and data science at WSU Tri-Cities, as it also feeds into nearly all areas. He said a strong academic focus on algorithmic approach not only sets a foundation for a range of other academic areas – it is also a crucial component of complex thinking.

Klotz said he is excited to join the team at WSU Tri-Cities and looks to build on many initiatives already taking place on campus while building coalitions for seizing new opportunities.

“We have a highly motivated faculty and staff and everyone is engaged and really trying to make sure that everything works across the board,” he said. “I hope to facilitate paths to reach these goals and contribute also to translating the strategic plan that exists for WSU as a system into tasks and sub goals on our campus.”

Klotz said the mission of four-year higher education institutions is to not only graduate more students with a career-informed degree in time, but it is also to afford faculty and students with opportunities for scholarship and creative activity.

“Every academic direction and college represented here is important,” he said. “They all have their specific roles to play in forming a career-prepared graduate and they contribute to and build on a sound liberal arts education. Even though this is a STEM-focused campus, this is not just rooted in science and engineering. There are many opportunities for scholarship in the fine and liberal arts, in business, education and the health sciences.”

RICHLAND, Wash. – Five local freshman at Washington State University Tri-Cities are among the university’s latest class of STEM Scholars.

As part of earning the distinction, where STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the students are honored with a $8,400 per year scholarship and will join the university’s STEM Learning Community. The community consists of a cohort of students that pursue a range of extracurricular opportunities and activities in the STEM fields.

WSU Tri-Cities STEM Scholars – (from left) Louis Theriault, Aaron Engebretson, Jared Johnson, Destiny Ledesma and Diamond Madden

The students awarded include:

  • Aaron Engebretson – Liberty Christian High School
  • Jared Johnson – Richland High School
  • Destiny Ledesma – Hanford High School
  • Diamond Madden – Southridge High School
  • Louis Theriault – Mid-Columbia Partnership

In order to be eligible for the program, students must have a minimum high school grade-point average of 3.75 based on a 4.0-scale, officially pursue a STEM-based major available at WSU Tri-Cities, be enrolled as a full-time student at WSU Tri-Cities, as well as actively participate in STEM Learning Community activities offered through the campus. Undergraduate majors eligible include: civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, environmental sciences, general biological science, general mathematics and general physical sciences.

“The students selected display an incredible work-ethic and strong potential for careers in the STEM fields,” WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Keith Moo-Young said. “We’re excited to offer them a variety of resources to propel them into their respective STEM majors, which will encourage them to lead their fellow students within those majors, pursue prominent research at WSU Tri-Cities, as well as inspire future students to follow in their footsteps.”

Kate McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs, said the research component of the experience will provide the students with a solid foundation for their academic futures.

“These STEM Scholars have the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research right from the beginning of their academic careers,” she said. “It provides them with an early start on building a solid foundation of skills required to be successful scientists and engineers.”

Aaron Engebretson

Aaron Engebretson

Engebretson

Engebretson plans to major in engineering. In high school, he served as class president during his senior year and was his class valedictorian. He was a member of Key Club where he served as the vice president of the club. He received the Northwest Nazarene Bridge Academy Scholar Award for taking 15 or more college credits while in high school and maintaining a 3.5 or higher GPA. He also received the Essence of Liberty Scholarship from Liberty Christian School. He hopes to one-day join Engineers Without Borders, which works with developing countries to find solutions for water supply, sanitation, agriculture and civil works. He also hopes to explore research in nuclear science while attending WSU Tri-Cities.

“The STEM Scholars program is very important to me,” he said. “It will surround me with fellow students that are driven, intelligent and interested in STEM … STEM careers are on the forefront of modern-day advancements and research. From the future of cars, to the future of modern medicine, STEM Careers provide solutions to a variety of different problems and challenges.”

Johnson

Jared Johnson

Jared Johnson

Johnson plans to major in electrical engineering. He is currently finishing his associate’s degree through Columbia Basin College’s running start program where he continues to receive high honors and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. At Richland High School, he earned Summa Cum Laude. Additionally, Johnson gives back to the community through his role with the National Honor Society, as well as helping with Second Harvest food distribution, tutoring high school math and assisting with various elementary school functions. He said he is looking forward to exploring the variety of research opportunities at WSU Tri-Cities.

“With a STEM education, there will be many job opportunities and career advancements,” he said. “STEM subjects have always been interesting to me in school. WSU Tri-Cities provides a wonderful university experience, while still having small classrooms for personalized education. WSU Tri-Cities is also a high-ranking STEM university.”

Destiny Ledesma

Destiny Ledesma

Ledesma

Ledesma plans to major in biology. In high school, she participated in the running start program at WSU Tri-Cities, in addition to serving as her class senator during her junior and senior years. It is with that role that she and her fellow peers brought back the “Every 15 Minutes Program,” a two-day event that sheds light on drinking and driving. Ledesma also gives back to the community by volunteering every year with the Tri-Cities Union Gospel Mission where she makes dinner boxes for the homeless with her family. She also volunteers at the Tri-Cities Water Follies, where she has served in various roles throughout the last few years. She hopes to attend medical school and pursue either a career as a reconstructive surgeon or dermatologist. She looks forward to pursuing research opportunities at WSU Tri-Cities, as well as getting involved with campus student government.

“It’s been such an honor and a blessing to have been able to receive such a prestigious scholarship,” she said. “I have been truly blessed with this opportunity to further my education … It will help prepare me to take on professional life after college and into the workforce. This program has truly changed my life.”

Madden

Diamond Madden

Diamond Madden

Madden plans to major in the physical sciences, with possibly an emphasis in chemistry. She earned 38 credits from Central Washington University’s running start program while she played softball, basketball and track and field for Southridge High School. Additionally, she played cello, violin and piano with the school’s orchestra, served in the school debate club, worked part-time for Tropical Sno and participated in the school’s Ignite program, which helps incoming freshmen transition to high school. She also volunteers occasionally with a local food bank. She hopes to pursue a career as a research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which has been a dream of hers for years.

“Words can’t even describe how much the STEM Scholars program means to me and my family,” she said. “Being the second youngest of seven children in a single-income family, this gives me the assurance that I can continue and complete my education for a degree in the sciences … I believe WSU is a remarkable college, with Tri-Cities being the perfect location for me and given the fact that the university partners with PNNL.”

Louis Theriault

Louis Theriault

Theriault

Theriault plans to major in civil engineering. In high school, as a home-schooled student, he participated in the WSU Tri-Cities running start program, which is what helped him decide on attending WSU Tri-Cities for his undergraduate degree. Over the years, he volunteered to help the Academy of Children’s theater put on its summer camps, helped at his home school program’s “Camp Invention” and continues to serve as a camp counselor for numerous camps, including for the upcoming STEM Camps at WSU Tri-Cities this July. He hopes to participate in WSU’s engineering study abroad opportunity at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences while earning his undergraduate degree at WSU Tri-Cities. After graduation, he hopes to serve as a civil engineer, working possibly around the United States or for an international engineering firm.

“The STEM Scholars Award means the world to me,” he said. “I didn’t believe that I would be one of the chosen people when I signed up. It is going to help me pay for almost all of my college and help me save money for my future … I want to pursue a career in the STEM fields because I want to be able to make a difference in the world.”