University of Dayton Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows Complete Externship at Riverside Research

DAYTON, OH – Riverside Research, a not-for-profit scientific research company with facilities in Beavercreek, Ohio, hosted two University of Dayton graduate students as part of the Woodrow Wilson Ohio Teaching Fellowship June 9–13, 2014.

The Woodrow Wilson Ohio Teaching Fellowship, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and funded by the State of Ohio through the Office of the Board of Regents of Higher Education, aims to prepare teachers for secondary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in disadvantaged urban and rural schools.

Meg Draeger, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine (STEMM) Coordinator at Dayton’s Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School, was instrumental in connecting the selected fellows with Riverside Research for the second consecutive year.

“Stationing the fellows at Riverside Research is becoming an annual thing,” said Draeger. “The primary objective of the program is to provide teachers with first-hand experience in a STEM workplace to see the application of the math and science subjects they will be teaching. Through externships at Riverside Research, they can tell their students they saw these subjects and techniques being directly applied at a local business. This allows the teachers the practical context, the ‘big picture,’ to pass along to their students.”

Riverside Research began supporting this program in summer 2013 with the sponsorship of two fellows. This year’s participants, Dr. Sarah Fortman and Ms. Lydda Mansfield, joined Riverside Research for a week-long externship, completing 35 hours total. Dr. Deanne Otto, manager of the company’s Education and Training Division, introduced them to useful academic resources and technology, including the Riverside Research-developed eTexts and the soon-to-be-published graduate-level textbook, The Phenomenology of Intelligence-focused Remote Sensing.

“Participating in the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship program is a great opportunity for collaboration between Riverside Research, a not-for-profit advocate of the STEM community, and the University of Dayton, an integral institution in advancing the STEM community,” said Otto. “As with any good mentorship program, we get just as much, if not more, out of the program as we give.”

Dr. Sarah Fortman (photo left) currently student teaches at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center and plans to teach physics upon program completion. Fortman studied math and physics during her undergraduate education, continuing on to earn her doctorate at the Ohio State University. Her areas of expertise include molecular spectroscopy and laboratory astrophysics.

Ms. Lydda Mansfield (photo right) is currently a student teacher at Brookville High School and plans to teach math upon program completion. Mansfield attained her undergraduate degree in aeronautics, concentrating on meteorology and atmospheric physics. Her diversified professional experience, including work in the insurance industry, accounting, corporate communications, investor relations, commercial underwriting, and safety and loss prevention, will offer a uniquely well-versed perspective.

During the externship, the two Fellows learned about potential employment for STEM students, focusing on job opportunities at Riverside Research. They also reviewed company-developed eTexts and adapted them for high school-level learning. Both Fortman and Mansfield agreed that their teaching will benefit from this experience, which has provided insight to a corporate workplace that demonstrates STEM concepts in action and exposed them to new educational resources.

Not only do the fellows plan to use Riverside Research-developed educational materials, they also hope to leverage this new corporate relationship for the betterment of their students by inviting Riverside Research employees to give guest lectures in their classrooms. Through instruction from STEM professionals, students would gain the same exposure to the real-life application of STEM principles that the fellows did during the externship.

“In just one week, we both really feel like part of the team,” said Mansfield. “We have enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and feel privileged to have the opportunity to gain a concrete picture for the abstract math and science concepts we teach every day.”

Riverside Research’s continued involvement with the University of Dayton Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows builds upon the organizations’ Cooperative Research Agreement. Signed in October 2013, this agreement continues and expands Riverside Research’s partnership with the University of Dayton through joint pursuit of a multitude of academic and educational research initiatives.