February 2021

K-16 STEM in the NEWS

Local Teacher Honored by State for RISE Award


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria together with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently honored Cerssandra McPherson, a paraprofessional working with special education students in the Toledo Public School System, and Barbara Ward, a school bus driver for the Fairland Local School District, as Ohio’s nominees for the first annual national Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award.

“I am so grateful for caring, dedicated and enthusiastic Ohioans like Cerssandra McPherson and Barbara Ward who are encouraging and inspiring our young people each day. It is an honor and a pleasure to nominate them to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration for national RISE Award recognition,” said DeWine.

“It’s clear these professionals go out of their way to make every student feel seen, valued and significant. That sort of recognition is vital for our young people, and I’m so proud to recognize Cerssandra and Barbara today for their incredible work on behalf of Ohio’s students,” said DeMaria.

In nominating McPherson, Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers said, “She is flexible and dependable, ready to enthusiastically take on any task to which she is assigned. Given that Cerssandra is self-motivated, she often goes above and beyond the call of duty in her dedication to the success of each student in her purview."

She also supports other paraprofessionals in her building and the district by taking on the responsibility of providing training and professional development that keeps them current with the latest educational trends and strategies. Cerssandra is a valued and respected member of her school community.”

The RISE Award promotes the commitment and excellence exhibited by full- or part-time classified school employees who provide exemplary service to students in prekindergarten through high school. Each state may nominate up to two candidates annually for consideration for the national award. The U.S. Secretary of Education will announce the national award winner in the spring.


Community STEM in the NEWS


Fossils may hold clues to climate change, says BGSU paleobiologist 

Posted on BGSU News website
By Julie Carle

Evolution and extinction of an ancient mollusk, informs the research of Dr. Peg Yacobucci

A Bowling Green State University paleobiologist‘s research into the life and death of an ancient mollusk might uncover clues about the next global warming event on Earth.

Dr. Margaret “Peg” Yacobucci, a BGSU geology professor in the School of Earth, Environment, and Society, studies the evolution and extinction of marine life, specifically a class of cephalopods known as ammonites.

Relatives to the modern-day squid, octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus, the ammonites lived and died in the world’s oceans for over 340 million years until they finally became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 66 million years ago.

Her research of the ammonites’ evolution and extinction, captured in the fossils that can still be found today, is especially timely now. She is focused on past global warming events and what they might tell us about what’s going to happen over the next couple hundred years to life on Earth.

Her research and important contributions to cephalopod paleobiology were key to her being named a Fellow of the Paleontological Society in 2020. Yacobucci, the first BGSU faculty member to earn the honor, was also recognized for her notable commitment to teaching, mentoring, outreach, leadership, and service to the paleontological community, as well as her support of diversity in science, of young women in particular. She has been an active member of the society for decades, serving as the education and outreach coordinator and the secretary.

She and other scientists in the field “study ancient life based on evidence recorded in the rock record,” she said. While her degrees are in geology, she is also a biologist because she studies biological questions using geological objects as evidence.

“We humans have not lived through the kind of global warming that is forecast to happen over the next few centuries because of anthropogenic or human impacts,” Yacobucci said about the research. “However, there are times in Earth’s deep past when life experienced rapid warming similar to what we anticipate will happen in our own future.”

It makes sense to study those ancient warming events for potential clues to Earth’s future.

“There are some really interesting things in terms of what this is going to tell us about how we might respond to modern-day global warming,” she said. “It’s not a single story and it’s not uniform, but we’re finding out that some groups are dying out not necessarily only because of temperature change.”

Digging into her research

Her big-picture research looks at where species come from, how do evolution and extinction happen. She looks for answers to why some groups are more prone to extinction and die out while other groups can resist extinction and not die out for millions and millions of years.

“My research focus is on evolution and extinction, sort of two sides of the same coin,” she said. “How do we make species and then how do we kill them off? How does diversity - the number of species - seriously change over time, and what are the drivers of that change in diversity over time?”

Because the ammonites showed a high rate of evolution and extinction, Yacobucci explained they provide a lot of examples of possible drivers for evolution and extinction.

“The rapid warming event that occurred 94 million years ago had to do with a big eruption of molten material on the surface of the Earth, which put a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and caused greenhouse warming like we’re doing today by burning fossil fuels.”

Many ammonites died out during this major extinction event, and by tracking how their anatomy, diversity, and geographic distributions changed over time, Yacobucci gains clues on how groups diversify and make new species, and why some groups were dying out during this time of major environmental changes.

Ammonites’ extinction was not necessarily due exclusively to temperature. Their responses to this global environmental upheaval 94 million years ago seemed to vary regionally, with lower oxygen levels and changes in nutrient influxes into the ocean basins, in addition to temperature, being important drivers of diversity change, Yacobucci explained.

“I think that’s what we can expect to see happen over the next few hundred years. In different places, we’re going to see temperatures be the main driver or a decrease in oxygen,” she said.

The influence might also be ocean acidification, where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in the water and makes the water more acidic. Because shells require non-acidic environments, a more acidic ocean would affect the ability to grow shells for some marine life.

“All these different environmental factors are part of the story of global warming, which is why we talk more about global climate change than just about warming,” Yacobucci said.

“We’re seeing that in the past, and I think that’s what we’re going to see in the future,” she said. “We need to pay attention to all of these environmental factors and anticipate that the response of life to anthropogenic, human-made, warming is going to be different in different regions.”

Scientists know outcomes will depend on the actual circumstances and the groups. Just like the ammonites she studies. “Some of the groups were more resistant and were able to survive the event, and we’re still trying to figure out why.”

Her preliminary work that she is preparing for publication indicates groups that were in certain places were preferentially able to survive, meaning there was a geographic component to the phenomenon.

“Survival is partly, were you lucky enough to live in a refuge where conditions remained livable or not? That’s going to make you survive this extinction,” she said.

The big extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous, when an asteroid hit the Earth and the dinosaurs were killed, is also the event that killed the ammonites completely. But the nautilus survived, which is the crux of another longstanding question: They were two similar shelled cephalopods; why did one group die out completely and the other survive and remain today?

The difference might be related to how they reproduce, Yacobucci said. Ammonites tended to have small babies that lived near the surface waters that were highly affected by the asteroid’s impact and its aftermath. The nautilus babies were larger and stayed near the bottom, possibly contributing to their longtime survival.

“That means how big your babies were may have made you either survive that catastrophe or not,” she said. “That really gives you pause as a human. As a species, we’ve only been around for about 200-300,000 years. We’ve never lived in a warm time.

“How lucky are we?” she said. “We’re lucky that we’re very widespread. Someone somewhere will survive a major catastrophe. We have that going for us, but on a lot of other metrics, we are one of the species more vulnerable to extinction.”

As a species, humans need to be mindful of the amount of finite resources consumed because there are clear limits that can’t be expanded indefinitely. The basic takeaway, at least from a paleontology perspective, is that “Earth is going to be fine. Life has always recovered from a mass extinction,” she said.

“We as a species are the ones that are vulnerable. We might be the dinosaurs of the next extinction, but life will recover.”


STEM Opportunities

2021 Women in STEM "Virtual" 

37th Annual Women in STEM Program
April 22, 2021, Earth Day
FREE Virtual Field Trip

Invitation to Present!

The goal of the Women in STEM program at BGSU is to provide a rewarding experience for 6th - 8th-grade girls that connects STEM education to the real world and sparks an interest in pursuing STEM majors in college and ultimately STEM careers.

This year's unique virtual field trip event will celebrate Earth Day with our 6th-8th grade female student audience with the theme 'Restore Our Earth'. (NOTE: Your individual sessions do not need to be an Earth Day theme, but they certainly can if you want!)

Please click here to apply to be a presenter.

Questions, contact Jenna Pollock at jpolloc@bgsu.edu


School Registration for 2021 Women in STEM

FREE Virtual Field Trip *NEW for 2021​*

This event is geared toward girls in grades 6, 7, & 8 who will be exposed to careers in the STEM fields through hands-on activities when they 'visit' BGSU virtually to participate in live and engaging sessions. Students can participate in their classrooms or their homes. Further information on how to connect will be provided closer to the event date.

The goal of the Women in STEM program is to provide a rewarding experience for 6th-8th grade girls that will connect STEM education to the real world and spark interest in pursuing a STEM major or career.

Participants will engage in hands-on activities and interact with successful STEM role models. The ultimate goal of this program is to help young women recognize the wide array of options available in STEM fields and inspire them to pursue these fields throughout their educational careers.  

Please click on the link below to register students. Each school is limited to 20 students.


The registration deadline is April 10, 2021

For more information visit the website at www.bgsu.edu/nwo/programs/women-in-stem.html

All who wish to attend Women in STEM are welcome regardless of their gender.



Applications are open now for a new cohort of Ohio teachers to join Code.org’s Computer Science Professional Learning Program.

Code.org’s Professional Learning Program is an intensive, year-long learning experience for middle and high school educators interested in teaching Code.org’s Computer Science Discoveries (middle school) or Computer Science Principles (high school) courses.

Participants will explore the Computer Science curriculum and tools, experiment with specific teaching strategies, and join a local community of teachers using this curriculum.

Learn more and apply here


Believe in Ohio

The Believe in Ohio program has online STEM Professional Development Workshop Opportunities for STEM and Business/Economics teachers. Believe in Ohio provides the program curriculum in a Google Classroom for teachers. These workshops will familiarize teachers with the concepts of entrepreneurship and design-thinking ideation by engaging teachers in the resources to utilize with students to develop a STEM business or commercialization plan. Through this process of engagement, the workshop will provide instruction and activities to increase teachers' conceptual knowledge of the entrepreneurial mindset, design-thinking, and the relationship between STEM and innovation. For more information, contact: Jenna Pollock: jpolloc@bgsu.edu and the website at: www.BelieveinOhio.org.

Believe in Ohio Statewide Scholarship Program to recognize students for STEM Innovation and Entrepreneurship

To ensure that students from all parts of Ohio receive recognition, at least one (1) $1,000 scholarship will be awarded in each of Ohio’s ninety-nine (99) State House Representative districts, and thirty-three (33) Ohio State Senate districts. That is a total of 132 scholarships.

Only high school juniors and seniors (School year 2020-21) are eligible to apply. 

For more information, including award criteria, please follow the links listed below.


The application deadline is April 15, 2021


FREE Virtual Math Teacher PD Opportunity Fall 2021

The 2021 sessions will be virtual and are FREE* and open to K - 12 math teachers and college faculty/staff in northwest Ohio.

Participants will receive:

  • Great professional development.
  • Networking with mathematicians, higher education faculty, and other classroom teachers.
  • Contact hour certificate.

Black Swamp Math Teacher Circle meetings will be on the following dates and times:

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021, from 6:30-8:30 pm. Topic: TBD

Join Zoom Meeting: https://bgsu-edu.zoom.us/j/85956117758?pwd=enA3MDJwUDRwOEdBYWU1YzF1YVNtZz09

If you would like more information, please contact Gabriel Matney, Bowling Green State University, at gmatney@bgsu.edu.


Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program

TBonnie Plants initiated the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people, teach kids where their food comes from, and grow the next generation of gardeners. Each year, Bonnie sends more than one million free O.S. Cross, or “oversized” cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country, whose teachers have signed up for the program. If properly nurtured, kids can cultivate and grow cabbages that may tip the scale at more than 40 pounds!"

For more information: https://bonniecabbageprogram.com/about-bonnie-plants/


Plan now to Celebrate the 16th Annual Endangered Species Day on May 21st, 2021

Every year on the third Friday in May, thousands of people around the world participate in Endangered Species Day by celebrating, learning about, and taking action to protect threatened and endangered species. Wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, gardens, schools, libraries, museums, community groups, nonprofits, and individuals hold special programs or events for people of all ages. Due to the global coronavirus crisis, the programs organized for Endangered Species Day 2021 will primarily be online events, digital actions, and remote activities. Find out how you can be a part of this historic day below! Please note more featured events will be uploaded in February 2021.



EarthEcho Academy

The Northrop Grumman Foundation is partnering with environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International on EarthEcho Academy, a virtual learning space developed to provide online courses for teacher professional learning with access to fully remote, asynchronous environmental education modules for students featuring some of EarthEcho’s most popular Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned classroom resources. The inaugural course, EarthEcho Expedition: Into the Dead Zone, is offered at no charge to any public middle school teacher and will close on March 12, 2021. For questions about the program, contact Jaclyn Gerakios, program manager, at jaclyn@earthecho.org.


Advancing Excellence in P-12 Engineering Education

The Advancing Excellence in P-12 Engineering Education research collaborative has collaborated with the American Society for Engineering Education to develop a framework for creating and implementing authentic, coherent engineering curricula that promote equity and access across all grade levels. The goal: Engineering literacy for all students.

The free, downloadable document Includes guides to help educators and district leaders evaluate curriculum, textbooks and materials, and policies.

Learn more about the Framework.


Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

Apply to Girls Who Code’s free 2-week Virtual Summer Immersion Program for an unforgettable experience! Current 9th -11th-grade girls and non-binary students are eligible to apply. 

The early application deadline is approaching quickly on February 17th! We strongly encourage students from underrepresented groups in tech to apply early, including Black, Latinx, and students from low-income backgrounds.

Why join Girls Who Code this summer?
Learn how to use HTML, CSS, and Javascript coding skills to make an impact
Join a sisterhood of supportive peers and make lifelong friendships!
Meet women in tech from top corporations like Disney, AT&T, Twitter & more. 


NWO STEM Activity

Exploring Creative Expression through Digital Artistry

STEAM Activity from STEMx

As you go down the cereal aisle at your local grocery store have you ever looked at the colorful, fun, and exciting boxes? Have you ever asked to buy cereal because of the colors and design of the box? Businesses ask artists to help them design products that people will pay attention to.

This challenge is to re-design the box of a favorite cereal to make it even more appealing!

Step 1: Explore the 7 Elements of Art and incorporate as many as you can when designing. 

Step 2: Artists also use the engineering design process to design, create, and improve their art. Use the Engineering Design Process Template to help you plan out your cereal box design. 

Step 3: Have a family member, sibling or friend review your rough draft and give you feedback. Would they select your cereal box versus others on the shelf? Why or why not?

Step 4: Improve and finalize the design of your cereal box.

Step 5: Ask a family member to share a picture of your cereal box on social media using #MakerMondaySTEMx!

Updated: 04/06/2021 11:55AM