2020 Loeb Prize for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics

For 25 years, the Loeb Prize has celebrated outstanding science and math educators in the Saint Louis region who demonstrate a passion for teaching.

Daniel See of St. Louis University High School was awarded the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Prize for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics at an award ceremony presided over by Carol Loeb, who serves on the Science Center’s Board of Trustees, along with Todd Bastean, president and CEO.

“Students have a greater chance of succeeding and transferring their knowledge and skills outside of school when their interests and motivations intersect with learning goals,” said See. “Therefore, I believe it is important to develop and facilitate activities that help students connect their interests to learning goals.”

This year also honored educator Kathy Costello of St. James Catholic School as the second-place recipient. Other finalists included Kathy Alt of Millstadt Consolidated School, Rashida Chatman from Pamoja Prep Academy and Teri Range from O’Fallon Township High School.

“Great teachers are the cornerstone of a strong community and presenting these awards in 2020 is particularly meaningful as teachers across the world have been navigating new challenges to continue teaching during the global pandemic. All of our finalists demonstrate expertise in their subject areas, innovative teaching styles including the use of technology, and personal commitment to the overall well-being of their students,” said Carol Loeb, who was a math teacher for 57 years.

The Loeb Prize, established in 1995 and endowed in 2002 by a gift from Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb, honors effective teaching as a central component of quality education. It is one way in which the Loeb family and the Saint Louis Science Center demonstrate their commitment to teaching professionals and elevating public appreciation for teachers’ efforts.

“The Science Center is proud to continue this 25-year partnership with the Loeb family to recognize and reward outstanding teachers throughout the St. Louis region,” said Bastean. “We know that STEAM education is crucial in preparing students for the future, and the Loeb Prize is a wonderful way to honor area teachers who share in our mission ‘to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.’”

Virtual Learning Continues into Fall and Spring Semesters for YES Program

Like many schools across the country, the Science Center’s Youth Exploring Science (YES) program needed to continue teaching students safely during the pandemic. Innovative thinking and creativity enabled YES to go virtual within weeks for the summer session. “It was essential that we kept the YES program current and accessible to the teen participants,” says Siinya Williams, senior director of the YES program. Acknowledging there were some initial challenges, Williams states, “STEAM is a hands-on field and much of the curriculum required hands-on project development. Also, some students faced challenges accessing technology and internet service.” Ultimately, the summer session was a positive experience for the YES teens and educators and became the basis for a new remote learning model for the YES program that would extend to fall and spring sessions.

The newly adapted curriculum and virtual classrooms offer teens an opportunity to explore STEAM learning through interactive digital platforms that encourage innovation while adhering to the core principles of the program. “We provide a pipeline for the next generation STEAM workforce and we could not allow COVID-19 to halt the important learning that YES provides our students. With the amazing advancements in technology, we are now designed to work with teens virtually or in person,” says Williams.

YES Teen Named 2020 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

YES Teen Michael Bostic was honored with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award representing the St. Louis Region as part of his participation in Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Bostic received a $1,000 scholarship founded by Ernst & Young intended to recognize the endeavors of exceptional men and women who create the products and services that keep our worldwide economy moving forward.

The Science Center Levels Up with the Esports Program

Esports, or organized competitive multiplayer videogaming, is swiftly finding a place in high school and college STEAM education programs. Research shows that esports participation isn’t just recreational. It can help develop creative problem solving, information gathering and technology fluency, and players gain crucial skills like critical thinking, collaboration and communication—all skills that can help esports gamers find their place in the 21st century workforce. So, it was a natural fit for the Science Center to connect the community with esports through a new Esports Program.

Michael Harris, manager of cyber security education, is leading the development of the program and is excited to create this new opportunity for area youth to experience the educational benefits related to esports. “Having youth learn crucial life skills by doing something they love made it worth pursuing. We are working with the next generation and meeting them where they are at through purposeful gaming,” Harris says.

As the program continues to develop into 2021, the Science Center will launch efforts to support schools and offer exploration of esports industry careers. Resources for individual players are also in development to offer weekly coaching sessions, STEAM-related career exploration and sessions investigating topics like technology, media and events, human connection and art. Harris explains, “We have three core values in esports: (1) creating a wholistic gamer, (2) being accessible to all games, and (3) encouraging and supporting all gamers.”