STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Beverly Simmons (Ten80 Foundation)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on August 30, 2012
Beverly Simmons has been recognized as Teacher of the Year, GA Middle Grades Team of the Year and as a GA finalist for Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching. Her informal science experience includes Spirit of Ford Conference Center, and the NEW Detroit Science Center. Simmons is Co-founder of Ten80 Education and currently serves as Founder and Co-Chair of Ten80 Foundations Board of Directors. Programs developed through her work with Ten80 include the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative, a version of which has recently partnered with the US Army.
What principles do you, as a leader, apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
To deliver truly effective STEM requires a commitment to research, a passion for working with numbers and an entrepreneurial approach to educational reform. My partners and I have lived and breathed active collaboration, inquiry based learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for more than 15 years now. We have tried to look at education through the eyes of engineers as we crafted and tested solutions and partnerships. There are no silver bullets that bridge the gap between what education teaches and industry requires but many of us are dedicated to that cause. Our first Engineer-Educator team began piloting in 1997: some of our current STEM industry mentors are students from those early pilot programs.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
Helping the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative grow to a significant national program and competition has been a rewarding process. Students optimize a 1:10TH scale radio controlled car during a collaborative points competition. Teams use math modeling in every facet of the curriculum and are encourage to engage in "creative engineering." NASCAR and the US ARMY chose to partner with this program because they knew it embodied the real thrill of science, math, engineering, and technology: tackling something that seems “impossible” whether it is the ability to: fly; orbit the earth; talk to someone 15,000 miles away, decrease your energy consumption by 25% (per lap) for a long distance endurance race or shave 1/10th second off a pit stop.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
NASCAR may look like it is about competition but winning each race takes collaboration and teamwork. NASCAR garages and ARMY Bases are full of engineering and technical talent. This expertise is available to teachers and students working with Ten80 Education. Ten80 in turn “teams" engineers with educators. These teams offer a powerful combination of skills. The elements of STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, are all performing arts, and to become proficient in any craft it is necessary to "play the real game." Ten80 Student Racing Challenge utilizing a platform of 1:10th scale electric Radio Controlled cars is a hands-on, math focused STEM program that "plays the real game." It is a "little league" or "practice league" for STEM careers.
What about STEM gives you passion?
In the words of R. P. Feynman: "the pleasure of finding things out."
Science is about real tangible things that move, fly, explode, burn, haul loads, float, record images, stop diseases...all the interesting exciting “stuff” of the times in which we live. The language all scientists use is mathematics, the study of patterns. With math modeling available to the general public through modern technologies like graphing calculators, anyone can learn to speak this language. This is an exciting time for STEM.