WEST BETHESDA, Md. — Debbie Reynolds, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educator in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District of Pittsburgh, has been selected to come to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, as part of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program.
One of nine Einstein fellows selected from across the country for the 2019-2020 AEF Program, Reynolds is not only the first to be placed at Carderock, but also the first for the Department of Defense. She will serve at Carderock for 11 months starting in September 2019.
“I am so grateful, humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve as the first Fellow at Carderock,” Reynolds said. “I have such a passion for STEM education and have tried to share that passion with students and colleagues throughout my career.”
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists manages the AEF Program, now in its 29th year of operation. It provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 STEM educators to apply their extensive classroom knowledge and experiences to their host offices to inform federal STEM education efforts.
For the first time, Carderock is joining the list of current sponsoring agencies of the AEF Program, which includes Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the National Science Foundation, the Library of Congress, NASA and several U.S. congressional offices.
Carderock signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DOE to participate in the AEF Program earlier this year. Signed by Technical Director Larry Tarasek, the MOA made reference to the Navy’s need for a steady recruiting pool of graduates in the STEM fields, who, when hired here at Carderock, will enhance the nation’s edge in the Great Power Competition.
“By having an Einstein Fellow here at Carderock, we are working toward having an even more robust STEM program than we already have, which will ultimately provide a vibrant recruiting source for our future generation of engineers and scientists,” Tarasek said. “This is a win-win for us. Not only will Ms. Reynolds’s wealth of knowledge help inform our future STEM and outreach program, but what she learns here will also allow her to develop that next generation workforce in her hometown of Pittsburgh.”
Carderock’s STEM and Outreach Program supports a broad range of educational outreach programs, with the long-term goal of building a relevant and capable future STEM workforce. It aims to strengthen the STEM workforce pipeline through outreach by inspiring student’s interest in STEM through hands-on, accessible application of naval STEM fundamentals; provide practical experiences to engage students and teachers of all ages to learn by doing; and educate the next generation with foundational skills and knowledge needed to pursue advanced STEM education and careers.
“We impact thousands of students across the nation every year in our efforts to inspire, educate and engage learners of all ages in naval-relevant STEM subjects,” said Charlotte George, director of Carderock’s STEM and Outreach Program. “We are excited to work with the AEF Program to create a more sustainable, informed STEM and Outreach Program based on open-ended challenges that will promote students’ ingenuity and creativity. Ms. Reynolds will bring an educator’s perspective to Carderock’s STEM efforts, and ultimately Department of Defense STEM efforts.”
As part of the AEF Program, the Einstein Fellows gain an understanding of the role of the federal government in the U.S. education enterprise, knowledge of resources available to students and educators, and broader perspectives on national education issues that can be applied to the classroom or to leadership positions in their districts or elsewhere.
Reynolds has 25 years of experience in education. She is the STEM integration specialist at Harrison Middle School, where she works with other teachers to integrate STEM into every classroom.
“Our students and their parents are very interested in STEM education and activities,” Reynolds said. “We have to pass on a love for STEM subjects to our students when they are young so they will continue to pursue STEM subjects in high school and beyond.”
Jack Templeton, Carderock’s chief technology officer, said Carderock is excited to embrace Reynolds’ educator perspective to improve the quality of Carderock-developed material for teachers and students; to further develop a suite of naval-relevant STEM education modules for varying grade levels; to improve networking of local academic communities; and to better understand STEM education techniques and classroom culture. He hopes to see the greater DOD utilize the AEF Program further in the future.
“I know having Ms. Reynolds here is going to be a great benefit to how we advance our STEM program,” Templeton said. “I’m excited to see how the Einstein Fellow program will make an impact, not just here at Carderock, but because of the vibrant Warfare Center STEM outreach network, across the entire NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) community.”
In other federal facilities, previous Einstein Fellows have created and implemented national STEM education programs and tools; initiated collaborations and partnerships among federal agencies; and designed and deployed digital and online national learning tools for students and teachers.
“The opportunity to bring a unique perspective as an educator and work with national DOD STEM initiatives to influence K-12 STEM education on a national level is the chance of a lifetime,” Reynolds said. “I look forward to learning and working with the team and the STEM experts at Carderock throughout the next year.”