Shodor is starting off the New Year and the new decade with many opportunities and challenges, and we're excited to be able to count on the active participation and support of so many individuals and organizations in North Carolina and around the world. Our students continue to demonstrate that young people really are excited about opportunities and careers in science, mathematics and technology as we continue to focus on 21st Century skills.
As with other non-profits, the rumblings in the economy affected our resource base, and we've addressed the downturn as an opportunity to change and improve, first and foremost, with innovative ways to do more for less, for instance, printing fewer hard copy editions of this newsletter but increasing its frequency on-line. We are using more technology than transportation to provide some of our training and mentoring, and we are exploring ways for interns to work at a distance. We've also made an effort to apply for more private support to supplement the funds we have received from the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education. New partnerships with other organizations such as Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, will also bear fruit, we hope, in the new year as we work to expand how others are using the curriculum we've built at Shodor.
On the national scale, our National Computational Science Institute will take the lead again in providing the best training to college faculty and pre-college teachers with support from various agencies and vendors. Our Interactivate resources and other on-line materials continue to generate record-setting usage, but it is the student experience of building and maintaining these materials that remains our best "product."
I would like to thank each and every one of you who has supported us with your time, encouragement, and even financial resources. We won't have final numbers for a while, but donations to Shodor in 2009 reached an all-time high, led by staff donations and gifts from current students, alumni, and their parents from the Research Triangle area, along with gifts from faculty who have attended workshops across the country, including a $10,000 challenge grant.
I hope you will enjoy hearing from us more often, and I hope you will help spread the word to students and teachers who can take advantage of the Shodor experience in their own learning environments.
With best wishes that this will be a great year for Shodor and all of you!
Beginning this January Shodor will be launching a new media plan for its newsletter. Every two months Shodor followers will receive an electronic newsletter update. These e-newsletters will contain updates on Shodor projects, news from Shodor staff, and various other Shodor news. Shodor will still produce a print newsletter that will be mailed in March and September, however, the print newsletters will be taking on more of an information role, advising Shodor friends, families, and supporters of up-and-coming events and projects.
We hope that through this new media plan Shodor's newsletter becomes a more interactive experience for readers, informing them of the daily goings on at Shodor while also connecting them to our online interactive resources. Since this is our first electronic newsletter any feedback would be much appreciated. Please send comments to Hillary Stoker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A retired alumnus of the faculty workshops we organize through the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI) is offering a generous challenge grant:
"I want to thank you for all you have done for me and my students over the years. Perhaps others feel the same way. To help demonstrate that your own staff and alumni value what you have done for them, I offer the following challenge to you: For all contributions from staff, students, and alumni of Shodor's programs, I will match dollar for dollar up to $150 per contribution, and up to a total of $10,000. I hope the money raised from individuals who have benefited from Shodor's fine programs will allow those programs to continue for others."
Shodor has received more than $5000 in donations since this call to donate was announced to the community. That money is to be matched by the challenge donor, resulting in a total of more than $10000. Shodor is extremely grateful to all who donated.
We are also interested in hearing your own stories, so even if you can't afford anything this year please take a moment and send us your own story of how Shodor has helped you or your students. Include pictures (telling us who is in the picture!) if you'd like. We'd like to collect and compile these stories as a thank-you gift for this person's generosity. Please send all info to email@example.com.
2009 has been a big year for Shodor. the first apprentice class graduated, additional funding has been received for the Blue Waters project, strong emphasis has been placed on recruiting qualified and enthusiastic interns, participation in community outreach programs has reached an all time high, and new staff members have been brought on board to aid in the growing process.
Shodor's website receives over 100,000 page views a day. It is evident through the usage of online resources (such as Interactivate ) that Shodor's influence on education is growing. However, it is not just online usage that is growing, Shodor programs are emerging as valuable resources as well. This Fall Shodor has had an abundance of intern applications and consequently has hired 10 new interns. Along similar lines there are already a number of students signed up to participate in the spring Saturday Explorations Workshops. The hope is that the increasing participation in these programs also demonstrates the vast impact Shodor is having on the surrounding community. It seems that the needs of the communities surrounding Shodor are growing as well; students and educators alike are becoming more familiar with technology and various resources Shodor provides, which in turn creates a bigger need for Shodor to properly educate the community on how to effectively use these technologies. It is a circular cycle of supply and need from which Shodor can only benefit and grow.
This Spring Shodor will be partnering with North Carolina Central University to offer a workshop series called Saturday Explorations . From 9:00am-12:00pm for six Saturdays in February and March, students grades six to eight can satisfy their intellectual appetites for math, science, and computation. Saturday Explorations classes will cover a variety of subject matter including graphics, web design, modeling and an assortment of science topics that emphasize the use of computers and computation for problem solving. The classes will expose students to intriguing science problems and allow them to explore the use of math and computation in real life situations.
Former Saturday Explorations participant Avi Aggarwal said the classes were a great opportunity to learn more about science and math and develop computer skills. Another participant, William Cagle, also enjoyed the Saturday Exploration classes, naming the use of the application Google SketchUp as his favorite lesson of he series. The classes are taught by a variety of excellent teachers, who emphasize the importance of science as well as other social skills such as teamwork. Participant Angelina Wu said she enjoyed interacting with other students in groups and working together.
Classes will alternate between use of the NCCU and Shodor facilities. Registration for Saturday Explorations can be found on the Shodor website http://shodor.org/calendar.
This fall, with the support of Durham County, Shodor began its first quarter providing graphics, technology and math workshops to students in 3 rd through 5 th grade. These workshops are held Monday through Thursday at YE Smith Elementary School, WD Hill and various other community centers. Posters, brochures, maps, and power points are just some of the many projects that have been created so far and there are plans to expose the students to much more. Through the Durham County grant Shodor has been able to provide students of all age levels with opportunities to engage, explore, and become involved in a program that will be rewarding in the future.
As an example of the successfulness of the workshops, the fifth grade class at YE Smith has excelled tremendously working hands on with technology to explore the longitudes and latitudes of the earth. Using the Google Earth as a tool students have learned to generate maps and graphs with exact coordinates. WD Hill Community Center is another good example of this, where students from various schools ages 6-12 are exploring different Shodor tools such as Interactivate to learn math and science skills such as probability.
The support received from Durham County is also devoted to the training and mentoring of Shodor interns and staff to teach and improve the extended day and enrichment programs in Durham schools and community centers. In addition, teachers working in the after school program can see how effective computer explorations are as they get ideas for their own teaching.
Because of grants such as the one received from Durham County Shodor is able to show students that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can be interesting and exciting pathways to learning and careers.
Shodor was one of the many organizations and corporations present at the November 5 th Durham Public Schools Middle School Career Fair held at Northgate Mall. The event was designed to give middle school students a chance to explore a multitude of different career options. More than 150 career professionals were on hand, representing careers of all types. To the Shodor staff however there seemed to be a specific interest from students on careers dealing with technology and the sciences.
Although the Shodor table was set apart from the rest of the fair, there were a steady stream of students stopping by asking questions and learning about the different Shodor programs and ways in which they could get involved. Shodor interns and staff handed out brochures and talked with students about the importance of math and science in everyday life, as well as the career possibilities that specifically deal with technology, math and science.
Paris Fears, a Shodor intern who attended the DPS Career Expo with Shodor staff said, "Working at the Career Expo was so much fun. I really feel as though both the parents and students were interested in what I had to say, and walked away wanted to be a part of Shodor. I think it is important to get younger students excited about learning math and science because those are the most promising career fields."
The National Science Foundation has awarded an additional $775,000 of funding to the Blue Waters Supercomputer project, a portion of which will enable Shodor to expand the Undergraduate Petascale Education Program (UPEP).
The project called Blue Waters, supported by the University of Illinois in partnership with IBM, is working to build the worlds largest and most powerful supercomputer by 2011, creating a unique scientific resource more than one million times faster than todays laptops or desktop computers!
Originally Shodor received $1.3 million (spread over the 3 year project) of funding from NSF to support Shodor's effort to ensure that undergraduate students across the nation, starting with Shodor's own interns, are able to take full advantage of the Blue Waters Project. In the original project design, Shodor had 2 college internships for students in the Triangle area, as well as 5 additional internships across the country. In addition, Shodor supports educators across the nation with technology and science based workshops in petascale computing while developing new curriculum modules.
The additional support from NSF will more than double the size of the undergraduate internship program. As part of this effort, interns will also participate in a three-week, introductory institute about petascale tools, methodologies, and applications for conducting science and engineering. Daily tasks for these students will include computer development, programming, and working with researchers to build dynamic educational tools that can be implemented in schools across the US.
In May 2009 Shodor was recognized as one of six greater Durham area employers who won the 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. This is the third year Shodor has won the honor.
Winners of this prestigious national award were announced by Kathy Hoffmeier, of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, at a meeting of the Triangle Society for Human Resource Management at the Radisson Governors Inn in Research Triangle Park, NC.
This award recognizes employers that are successfully using workplace flexibility to meet both employer and employee goals. The scoring process is rigorous. Employer responses are measured against national data from Families and Work Institutes National Study of Employers. As a winner, Shodor ranks in the top 20% -- the 80th percentile -- of employers nationally in terms of flexible work programs, policies and culture.
Other Greater Durham area winners included: CrossComm, Durhams Partnership for Children, Expedite Group, US EPA and WorkSmart.
Dr. Robert M. Panoff, Shodor's founder and executive director, credits the mentoring atmosphere of Shodor for its success in its flexibility practices.
"Providing a nurturing environment where young apprentices, interns and more mature, experienced staff show one another respect - regardless of their age, amount of time or level of expertise they bring to the table, has been a foundation for our success in offering flexibility in a number of ways," he added.
Jenny Jones recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelors degree in elementary education. As a student teacher, she frequently used Interactivate lesson plans in her third grade classroom and was excited by the prospect of helping to create similar lesson plans as a Shodor intern this past summer. Now, as a staff member, Jenny develops curriculum for Interactivate, teaches workshops through Shodor's outreach programs, and helps to provide professional development resources to teachers across the state. When shes not busy with work, Jenny enjoys cooking, blogging (about cooking), and sharing her food with friends over good conversation.
When asked what her favorite subject was, eight-year-old Jennifer responded with Math! Many years and two degrees later, Jennifer Houchins is still passionate about mathematics and loves being both a teacher and a student (sometimes simultaneously). The pursuit of her first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from East Tennessee State University, led Jennifer into the exciting world of computation. During that time, she had the opportunity to share her love of math through teaching. Always wanting to learn more, Jennifer decided to continue her education with a Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University. For a few years following graduation, Jennifer worked in the software development industry. She enjoyed the work but very soon realized that something was missing. She thought there must be a place where she could combine her love of mathematics and computation with teaching. She discovered that place at Shodor! Now, Jennifer will be working as technical lead for CSERD and playing an active role in the Blue Waters project. She is excited to be at Shodor and looks forward to working with other efforts such as Interactivate.
Hillary Stoker is a young professional coming to Shodor after pledging a year of service to AmeriCorps. Hillary spent her year with AmeriCorps at UNC Chapel Hill working in the APPLES Service Learning office, advising students and planning student volunteer opportunities. While at APPLES Hillary also managed their intern program. Those skills have come in handy here at Shodor, as she is the new intern and communications coordinator. Hillary is working to expand the intern program by bringing in dedicated and enthusiastic individuals, while simultaneously working to get the word out about Shodor to the local media. Hillary received her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from Elon University and is pursuing a Masters of International Studies at North Carolina State University.