Whitefield Elementary School’s James Willigar and Lincoln Academy’s Maya Crosby were two out of six finalists competing in the STEM Education Innovation Challenge at this year’s Maine STEM Summit, which took place on November 18 at Colby College.
Both educators had eight minutes to “fast-pitch” their team’s STEM learning projects to an audience of more than 200 STEM leaders. Having already earned $2,000 each as finalists, both were vying for an additional $5,000 for their school’s team.
James Willigar unveiled his team’s plan to scale-up Whitfield’s aquaponics initiative into a renewable energy and food production lab at the school. Central to Willigar’s project is the conviction that students should understand that everyone can convert everyday, affordable materials into systems that help us meet basic food and energy needs.
Maya Crosby shared plans, co-developed by her Lincoln Academy students, to launch their engineering and technology innovations into viable commercial concepts. Inspired to develop solutions to real-world needs, her students are learning first-hand that applied research demands perseverance, determination, and community support to make a difference.
After the “Fast-Pitch” session ended, Lynn Farrin of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance reflected that although Lincoln County didn’t take home the $5,000 prize, “how awesome was it to have two teachers from Central Lincoln County sharing the stage in front of so many STEM movers and shakers? These teachers and their schools have been really important to our after school STEM Guides Project in Lincoln County. We couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance is a member of the Maine STEM Collaborative, which has convened leading STEM educators, businesses, and policymakers at the Maine STEM Summit every other year since 2008. To learn more about the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and our efforts to advance STEM education in Maine go to: www.mmsa.org.