May 2020

K-16 STEM in the NEWS

Research Inquiry through Student Engagement students present at NASA Glenn Research Center Education Event  


Nestled on six acres adjacent to Toledo Botanical Garden sits the Natural Science and Technology Center of Toledo Public Schools. The vocational high school offers specialized programs in which students can choose to major in urban agriculture and hydroponics, wildlife sustainability, or animal science. It is here where BGSU faculty member Dr. Emilio Duran and program staff from the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education (NWO) at BGSU began what was to be a three-year grant project entitled “Research Inquiry through Student Engagement” (RISE). Funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program’s Strategic Outreach Initiative, the program is designed to increase student interest and participation on in STEM study, research, and careers with students completing original scientific research projects under the guidance of teachers, mentors and scientists.

The RISE project has enjoyed a remarkable success with students, who would otherwise not have the opportunity, enthusiastically participating in not only original research, and this year was no exception. Part of the reason for the students’ enthusiasm is it is shared with the teachers, who learn skills to teach the scientific research process to their students. The RISE project culminates with students presenting their work at the Ohio Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (OJSHS), annually held at BGSU.

The Symposium event was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but three students were able to virtually present their research projects at the NASA Glenn Research Center Hydrology High School Capstone Culminating Event in April.

Olivia Bibler, a senior, participated in the RISE grant project last year and presented her research paper, “A Preliminary Study of Macroinvertebrates as Indicators of Stream Health” at OJSHS and also went on to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium with four other students from Ohio last year.  

This year she presented her project, “A Comparative Study of Soil Nutrients in Drainage Ditches” to several education program specialists at NASA along with consulting scientists Jodi Haney from BGSU and Kevin Czajkowski and Janet Struble, both from the University of Toledo.

Her project researched how draining ditches are one of the leading conduits of nutrient pollution, but she found there is little research to validate the claim that the pollution comes from agricultural resources. She went on her own to research what she could find out and compared different municipalities, using BGSU lab space. She explained to the audience, “My hypothesis was partially supported, and I found out further research was needed so I increased samplings during all four seasons with different variables”. She stated she’d like to have more sample sites for example, “…when roads are being salted in the winter and during planting season when fertilizers are being applied, and I want to look at vegetation more.”

When asked by NASA Glenn Research Center’s Gerald Votz what she enjoyed most about the research, Olivia replied, “I love working on research and finding out different things about the samples, it is super cool to learn how aspects can change.”

Voltz, an Education Program Specialist at NASA told Olivia that her work “…was on par with college presentations”, and that she did a very good job.

Olivia thanked Dr. Duran, the RISE Project staff and Dr. Jodi Haney, the RISE consulting scientist who stated, “This is how we know this is so powerful when we put students in charge of their research, they learn a lot and it pours right out of them!”

Dr. Kevin Czajkowski exclaimed, “Great presentation! I was impressed with the complexity of it. I don't know of anyone that was looking at the nutrients on the different sides of the ditch in the soil."

Olivia’s Wildlife & Sustainability teacher, Laura Kubiak, mentioned Olivia’s enthusiastic mentorship to 9th graders on their research projects, two of which also presented at the virtual symposium. Roman Azzarello and Neva Hargreaves, became interested in what is causing algal blooms in Lake Erie and conducted their research project on soil infiltration. They presented their project, “Soil Infiltration and Flow Rate”, and stated that the mentoring from Olivia helped the process “go a lot smoother,” since it was their first time conducting original research.

Olivia went on to say she loved being a mentor, as it helped her further understand her own project and was an enjoyable experience. She plans to major in biomedical engineering after high school.

For more information on OJSHS please visit:

Community STEM in the NEWS

Bowling Green State University Engages Undergrads and Citizen Scientists in GLOBE  

The GLOBE Midwest Region Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Partnership engaged in both undergraduate GLOBE student research and collaborative Federal grant development activities to further promote GLOBE in the region and beyond. Our Science and Math in ACTION Program is a "Choose Ohio First" funded endeavor that prepares middle and high school math and science teachers to excel in best practice instruction. Incoming freshman students participate in a three-week summer bridge program and The GLOBE Program is spotlighted as the inquiry in learning mini-course.

Students engage in GLOBE-related research over a five-day period. Each ACTION team of four students conducts and presents a student research project focusing on Urban Heat Islands and GLOBE surface and air temperatures (and our research confirms that the BGSU campus is indeed a heat island). During this freshman academic year, six students are working on a study to identify BGSU’s hottest (and coolest) places on campus, and will write and submit a campus sustainability grant application this spring requesting funds to mitigate our urban heat.

BGSU faculty engaged in collaborative grant-writing activities, submitting a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advancing Informal Science Learning (AISL) application entitled BASIN (Becoming a Scientist through Informal Networks) in November 2019. The team worked together with the U.S. GLOBE Partner Coordinator and the GLOBE Implementation Office, alongside various local informal learning community partners, including the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, the Imagination Station Science Museum, and Lucas & Wood County Soil and Water Districts. BASIN will advance informal science learning by engaging citizen scientists (grade 5 to adults) in monitoring critical water quality measurements contributing to our recent algal blooms and drinking water contamination. GLOBE hydrology protocols will be used, as well as a newly developed smartphone technology for improved hydrology data collection resulting in deeper learning and more highly engaged citizens.

This article from the News


STEM Opportunities

BGSU Summer Academic Enrichment Camps for Grades 3-8 

The BGSU Academic Enrichment Camps offer students in grades 3 through 8 two weeks of engaging and interactive learning from the comfort of their own home during Summer 2020. Students can select to enrich their learning in mathematics, reading, or science. These courses are taught and designed by trained teachers who are experts in the content of mathematics, reading, and science. During the camps, the students work directly with their camp instructor and same-age peers, enjoying a variety of activities to pique their interest in learning and deepen their knowledge.


For more Information click visit the website at:


Toledo Zoo Education Virtual Offerings Wild Toledo Teacher Monarch Kits

The Toledo Zoo Education Department is taking preorders for Wild Toledo Teacher Monarch Butterfly Kits that will be available for teachers to use in the classroom with their students. Kits are $10 each and come with 2 monarch butterfly caterpillars, a 32-ounce rearing container, a starting supply of milkweed, a detailed care sheet and Monarch Watch butterfly tags that will allow students to tag the adult monarch butterflies before being released. Kits are available by pick up at the Zoo only beginning in late August. Teachers will be notified by email when kits are available for pickup. A limited number of kits will be available so get your orders in now to ensure availability. Orders are online only at No phone-in orders will be accepted.

If you need more hands-on experience with monarch butterfly rearing and tagging, you can opt to sign up for a two-hour professional development class that will take place on Saturday, August 29, 10am-3pm. The $25 fee includes hands-on experience with monarch caterpillars, a rearing kit and an opportunity to tag an adult monarch butterfly. You can sign up at the same link.

Questions can be directed to Mitch Magdich at 419.385.5721 x2048.


Toledo Zoo Summer Kids Club

Join the Toledo Zoo Summer Kids Club for a summer of animal fun! The Kids Club is a fun, engaging way to experience the Toledo Zoo. Each week the club has access to exclusive video content, live interactions with Zoo education Staff, and fun activities to do at home.

Kids Club includes:

  • A Kids Club Souvenir and additional give-a-ways throughout the summer
  • Access to a private Toledo Zoo Summer Kids Club Facebook group
  • Virtual behind the scenes tours and animal demos
  • Live Q&A with the keepers
  • Storytime, sing-a-longs, family activities and more!
  • Two fun themes: Animal Superheroes and Zoo Careers
  • Weekly packets that will be sent to club members by email that include activities to do at home, a schedule, and a list of any supplies needed (this will be kept at a minimum)

Club members will be able to connect virtually through Zoom and a Kids Club Facebook Page. Each week the club will explore an animal exhibit, meet 3 ambassador animals, have a live Q&A with keepers, see a Zoo Exhibit behind the scenes, enjoy a storytime, interact through games and songs with an education staff member, and learn how to do a cool craft. Once the Zoo opens, club members will be able to come enjoy fun experiences at the Zoo such as animal feeds, special programs and games.


  • June 1 to August 14
  • 2-3 daily activities on Mondays through Saturdays, including at least one evening time each week


  • Members $100
  • Non-members $125 (only limited on-grounds activities included)
  • $15 per additional sibling

Registration is open at

Questions can be directed to Nicole Syrek at 419.385.5721 x2044.


Ohio STEM Learning Network Resources for Parents    

School closure resources for parents

Ohio STEM Learning Network’s list of home-appropriate educational resources has been updated with new links including STEM Is Elementary, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the Genius Hour Journal.


Girls Who Code Talks

Girls Who Code launches a free virtual video series to support women and girls navigating changes to their college and career plans during the pandemic.  

The series is open to anyone and will feature experts in career counseling, college admissions, wellness, and more.


Metroparks at Home – content and activities you can enjoy from the comfort of home.

At times, nothing is more healing for your mind, body, and spirit than a healthy dose of nature. Visit Metroparks at Home to explore a variety of educational self-guided nature activities to enjoy in a Metropark, or from the safety and comfort of home. Content is continually updated so check back often!


Google for Education New Teacher Center

Explore the many Free technology trainings and online resources for teachers:


DiscoverE has created a new resource: At Home Engineering

Filled with student activities, video challenges, and articles for parents and teachers, we hope At Home Engineering becomes your go-to resource. Especially since we'll be adding new material and features each week!


Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA Free Resources

May 20, 2020
9:00 AM Pacific (12:00 PM Eastern)

This Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA (part of NASA's Universe of Learning) webinar will provide a brief overview of the program and its resources, including a range of computer-based and paper-based activities, along with exhibits and poster series. We will then delve deeper into some Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA activity-based resources. In addition to the content, there will be time for questions and comments in order for NASA's Universe of Learning team to best support your program efforts with the Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA materials.



Free Resources, Activities and Webinars for Students, Teachers and Parents


NWO STEM Activity

At Home: Tennis, Anyone?

This month's activity is brought to you DiscoverE.

Student Instructions:


Design a racket out of everyday materials and use it to hit a target or play with another person.

Suggested Materials

Substitutions can be made for almost any of these materials:

  • String
  • Yarn
  • Straws
  • Tape
  • Paper Towel Tubes
  • Balloons
  • Rubber bands
  • Glue
  • Tinfoil
  • Paper clips
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper & pens
  • Bendable wire
  • Small bouncy ball

1. Identify the Problem

  • The most critical step of any engineering challenge is to understand the problem you are trying to solve.
  • The problem you are trying to solve is to make a racket out of everyday materials that reliably and accurately hits a target.

2. Collect Materials

  • Start collecting materials for your racket.
  • Don’t have all of the items on the list? That’s okay – you don’t need all of them. Look around and see if there are other materials you can use instead or do without.  

3. Brainstorm Designs

  • Look at pictures of a tennis racket online. What do you notice about them? Why do rackets have mesh (crossed strings) instead of a solid surface?
  • Did you know that the crossed strings of a tennis racket create an elastic surface that moves slightly with the ball? Rackets with higher tension (less elastic strings) gives a player more control on where the ball goes. Rackets with lower tension (more elastic strings) give the player more power to make the ball go farther or faster.

As you design your racket, think about:

  • How fine or loosely spaced should the weave of your mesh be?
  • What materials can you make the mesh out of? Try out different materials.
  • How can you attach the mesh to your racket frame so it doesn’t pull apart when you hit the ball?
  • Does the surface area of your mesh matter? Why or why not?
  • What’s the best thickness for the handle?

4. Build It

  • Start building! If possible, take pictures of the materials as you build. Maybe one at the beginning, one during the process, and one at the end.

5. Test It

  • How far you can hit a ball with your racket?
  • Make a target. Tape a piece of paper to a wall or door. Can you hit the target?
  • Add a bullseye to your target – can you hit that?
  • Do you have a partner to play with? Can you volley a ball back and forth with your rackets?

6. Share Results

  • Share your results and your design with your teacher or parents. 
  • Did it work like you thought it would?
  • What design changes would you make?

7. Make Changes and Try Again!  

Updated: 03/16/2021 01:50PM