News

Librarian proposes 'slams' for math, science

Gunn High faculty member presented her idea Friday (April 1) at California Academy of Sciences

A librarian at Gunn High School in Palo Alto has won recognition for her proposal to showcase student projects by holding online "STEM slams," which she calls "the new science fairs."

Meg Omainsky presented her idea to create global, online science competitions Friday (April 1) at a "STEMposium" at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

"President Obama ... urged Americans to start celebrating scientists like Super Bowl champions, so let's do it," Omainsky said in a one-minute video she created for her initial submission to STEMposium.

The video contrasts traditional science fairs with Omainsky's "STEM slam" idea, in which "students make zany video demonstrations showing how they use STEM in their lives, and people vote online for their favorites."

Among 130 proposals submitted to STEMposium, Omainsky's is one of 12 selected for presentation Friday in San Francisco.

"STEM slam is for all types of students, all grade levels and all levels of ability in science -– not just celebrating the scientifically gifted," Omainsky said in an interview.

"It's to get all type of kids engages in science so they may consider a STEM field as a career, because the workforce will need them in the future.

"It's a chance for all students to say, 'Hey, I can do math. I can do science,' and I think that's the heart of the STEMposium mission."

Regardless of whether she wins prizes Friday that are valued at up to $5,000, Omainsky said she plans to launch STEM slams among students in Palo Alto.

"I haven't launched it full on yet, but I've sent it around Gunn and already have a couple of submissions," including a 45-second video in which students demonstrate how to use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the shortest route to class.

Sponsors of the STEMposium include HP, the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, Citizen Schools, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Omainsky, who came to Gunn as librarian last year, has worked in education for 12 years. She previously taught English, English Language Development and reading in Syracuse, New York and Salinas.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by great job
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Great job, Ms. Omainsky. We need more educators who can help push our educational system into the 21st century.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford community
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

This is wonderful! A positive idea concocted by one of our teachers being used to help our students feel proud of what they have done instead of focusing on how they are lesser than. Bravo!


Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

Congratulations to Meg Omainsky on being selected to present her innovative and creative idea at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences!

Ms. Omainsky has harnessed the insights that she gained as a talented teacher and enthusiastic librarian to come up with a learning concept which rather than seeing technology as an obstacle to learning, fully embraces and integrates it in her "STEMslam" idea.

"STEMslam" is an exciting and engaging way for kids to demonstrate an interest in and understanding of math and science and is sure to appeal to a broad variety of students.

Go Meg!


Like this comment
Posted by Three cheers
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

A librarian who has intellectual talents! where can we find such people in the Palo Alto library system? Some of our librarians seem more interested in face painting and magicians and pizza.
Cheers to Ms. Omainsky!


Like this comment
Posted by Wha?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

"A librarian who has intellectual talents! where can we find such people in the Palo Alto library system? Some of our librarians seem more interested in face painting and magicians and pizza."

HARSH! Are you slamming kids programs put on by the librarians in the city? How sad.

Congrats to a teacher who apparently loves their job and thinks outside the box.


Like this comment
Posted by Meg Omainsky
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The STEM Slam vision includes community partners such as public libraries and community centers joining in the celebration of student learning by hosting STEM Slam screening events. When the project rolls out formally in May, we will make this option available. This project is about using technology to celebrate STEM learning on the global stage. Our students deserve this kind of recognition and it's an honor for STEM SLam to provide the platform.
Thanks for the support.


Like this comment
Posted by Fan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm

You rock Meg!!!


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