Over this past summer, Project Exploration revitalized one of their programs from the past, Science Giants at Al Raby High School, in partnership with After School Matters, and we were lucky enough to bring on a brand new STEM Facilitator, Meghan Bagley, who has gone above and beyond to make this program amazing for both the organization and our participants!
Originally from Wheaton, IL, Meghan was a Biology major, with an Education minor at Denison University in Ohio and graduated in the Spring of 2015. Our Program Manager, Jaclyn Carmichael, recently spoke with Meghan to learn more about this hard-working women of science and hear about her experiences with Project Exploration!
- Knowing that this is your first year with Project Exploration, tell us how you got involved and why you wanted to join our team?
I heard about Project Exploration through a friend of the family, and I was very interested in the mission. I knew I wanted to learn more about the program and set up a meeting with Syda Taylor, Director of Program and Community Relations. After contacting Syda, I got an email from our family friend that Project Exploration was looking for a STEM Facilitator so I decided to apply for the position.
- How do you feel your work as a STEM Facilitator relates to your studies in Biology and Education while you were at Denison University?
In one Education class, I did two separate projects that almost directly relate to Project Exploration. My first project was our midterm and I wrote a paper about how when people think about the STEM fields they think of predominantly white males, which matches some of the feeling the program participants have as well. And the second project was a grant proposal where my group presented on the lack of STEM programming in the middle schools in Newark, Ohio. Newark is an economically depressed community and specifically their STEM programs have been affected by budget cuts. My group’s project was voted as one of the projects that would get funding, and we were able to establish a relationship with a local museum that will bring STEM programs to the middle school. These school projects actually helped me understand more about the problems that cause the lack of women and minorities in these fields.
- Is there a memorable event, student, or group that stands out in your mind that you have worked with? Or any specific project?
My favorite event was the field trip to Brookfield Zoo with the Chicago Zoological Society. I have always loved the zoo and my favorite class at Denison was my animal behavior class so it was really fun to walk around Brookfield Zoo and get to teach the kids some things about the animals. We love learning about plants every day, but mixing it up and learning about the animals for the day was a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity to get them out of the classroom and we were very fortunate with such a warm sunny day in November!
- Through working on Science Giants with Project Exploration, what have you learned from working with Project Exploration youth?
I have learned that sometimes it takes a few different approaches to really engage a student, but that you can find something that really engages everyone. For example, some of the students really liked when we did hands on things and planted little CD greenhouses. But there were a few kids I didn’t see come alive until we made poems and raps about the
information we learned from the palm room. It really showed me that everyone really does learn differently and I will definitely try to incorporate different types of activities next semester.
- Outside of working with Project Exploration youth, how do you enjoy spending your time?
I love reading biographies, anything from Tina Fey to Stephan Ambrose’s biography about Lewis and Clark. I swam for 16 years through school, but I do not swim for fun, now I like to do yoga or Pilates. I also really enjoy spending time with my family, my mom’s entire family lives in Wheaton, so we are always together celebrating a birthday or holiday together.
I would love to do educational outreach and programming for a museum or one of the zoos in Chicago.
- Is there anything else you can see yourself getting from Project Exploration?
I have learned a lot about what teenagers actually enjoy doing, so I think continuing with Project Exploration will help me strengthen my skills even more.