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Day in the Life: STEM Educator and Phd Student

Meet Elaine, one of our awesome Rosie River Community member!

We asked her to talk a little about her job, and what she wishes we could change in the world.

How would you describe your job?

At the moment I have three jobs and go to school full-time. I manage the Chemistry Store on campus. I teach STEM activities to campers in the afternoon. I am also working on a National Science Foundation grant studying spatial skills utilizing Minecraft. We will run a full camp of Minecraft next month.

What does your day to day look like?

I open the store. Check inventory of chemicals and equipment. make sure we have enough liquid nitrogen and drums of Ethanol. Then I move to a camp location to teach 30 to 75 kids about a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) related to their camp theme. This week is slime, Makerspace circuits, bugs and Nerf Blaster math. I try to catch up on any papers or reading for my graduate school classes.

How did you end up in your job/field?

I was first in industry for electronic chemicals followed by fruit and vegetable coatings. I started dabbling in Girl Scouts and decided to change careers to education. I taught High School for over 10 years and attended numerous NASA based trainings. Which led me to apply to be an teacher astronaut and eventually graduate school. I moved to Montana three years ago and ended up at Montana State University. I have been teaching Intro Chemistry and Secondary Teacher Candidates. I started working towards my PhD last year and am in full swing. I will be leading my own ALL GIRL STEM clubs in the Fall and researching them for my dissertation.

What do you love most about your job?

Making my own business and education decisions and being able to set my schedule. Being able to teach everyday and watching kids get excited to learn.

What is your favorite example of a well engineered or well designed thing (a building, a product, a system), and why is it your favorite?

My Jet Boil gives me the ability to cook dehydrated food anywhere quickly! I just got back from camping and used it to sterilize my water.

What’s something you think people need to fix (again a product, a system, as big and serious or as small and serious as you want it to be)?

How people view, raise and speak to girls in our society. Women should be raising their voices with confidence about what they can do or want to do. This would trickle down to girls having their own confidence and a positive mindset of their accomplishments, future or past. This will build a more equal Science Technology Engineering and Math pathways for all genders.

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