Two teachers win Idaho STEM awards

A West Ada elementary teacher and an Orofino Junior-Senior High School STEM teacher were recognized by the Idaho STEM Action Center last month for their work building bridges between classroom education and hands-on STEM opportunities.

Gina Kwid teaches elementary engineering and coaches a robotics team at Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle. Her elementary students work on coding, robotics, 3-D printing and environmental science projects. Kwid’s students regularly hear from and collaborate with engineers, according to her award nomination. In 2019, Kwid’s students worked with an Idaho amateur radio team on a project to contact the International Space Station. Elementary students and middle school students helped design and build a radio antenna and spoke live with an astronaut in September 2019.

“In the STEM classroom we get kids to think,” Kwid said in a STEM Action Center news release. “They become problemsolvers. They become self-sufficient. I love watching the light bulbs go on when they use the engineering design process to work through a problem and they discover the answers for themselves.”

Tim Gering teaches STEM, physical science and chemistry at the 350-student Orofino Junior-Senior High. Gering’s students learn how to work with drones, are building t-shirt-throwing robots for school athletic competitions, and collaborate with professionals from local businesses, according to his nomination for the award. Recently, Gering partnered with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staffer to teach students about dam turbines. Eighth-graders designed their own turbines, then visited Idaho’s Dworshak Dam to watch the technology in action.

“To see these kids as they tackle those problems and have to rethink and redesign and rebuild, to see their whole demeanor and the smiles and the laughter when they succeed, there’s nothing else like that in the teaching world, in my opinion,” Gering said in the STEM Action Center release. “…What we’re doing directly relates to jobs that these kids can get, either after a degree or trade school or even going right into the workforce.”

Gering and Kwid will receive $2,000 checks, up to $2,000 to attend STEM-related conferences and their schools will receive $2,000 for STEM initiatives.

State Department of Education holiday card deadline approaches

The annual State Department of Education Holiday Card contest is underway.  Students have until Nov. 13 to submit hand-drawn entries.

The contest is open to all public school students in grades K-6. One drawing will be selected as the overall winner, published on the SDE website and used as the annual greeting card. The winning student will also get a pack of cards for personal use. The SDE will also select grade-level winners.

Click here for submission guidelines.

Free food programs for children extended through June

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the timeframe for a free child feeding program that allows all youth under 18 to pick up free meals from a provider.

The Summer Food Service Program was initially set to expire in September, and schools would have needed to revert to the traditional National School Lunch Program, which requires students to pay for lunch unless they qualify for free and reduced-price meals. In late August, the USDA extended the summer food program through the end of the year, allowing districts to decide if they’d like to keep giving out free meals, or switch to NSLP. The Agriculture Department has  extended the free food program through the summer of 2021.

For more information, join a child nutrition program town hall meeting with the State Department of Education on Nov. 18 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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