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Teacher Brings Love For Science 'Full STEAM Ahead' To U.S. Navy

On today’s program: A Baldwin-Whitehall middle school teacher is working with the U.S. Navy to establish STEM education standards; a Pittsburgh businessman is paying it forward by mentoring young people in his community; a Pitt professor is looking beyond grocery store shelves to find ways to eat ethically; and a new group of science writers is building a bridge between shrinking newsrooms and telling science stories.

Local STEM teacher selected to work with the U.S. Navy
(0:00 – 12:30)

Harrison Middle School teacher and STEM Integration Specialist Debbie Reynolds is going back to school this fall – but not in the traditional sense. She's heading to the D.C. area to work with the U.S. Navy and a group of other teachers to develop standards and improve outreach for STEM programs in schools nationwide. Reynolds is one of nine teachers from across the country to receive an 11-month Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, given to accomplished science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers. 

“I think it’s going to be a mutually beneficial relationship," she says. "I’m going to be learning what the Navy does to attract students, to attract people into a Navy career, or even coming in as a civilian to fill those STEM jobs. So I think it’s going to be a good experience for both of us.”

Reynolds is the first to serve at the Carderock Divisionof the Naval Surface Warfare Center, as well as with the Department of Defense.

A mentee becomes a mentor
(13:52 – 17:52)

Paul David Spradley credits much of his success to the generosity of his mentor, Dr. Rex Crowley, who invested in him and helped him realize his value. Now Spradley is mentoring other young men. 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort spoke with Spradley about the importance of giving back.

Can an ethical diet include eating meat?
(17:56 – 24:45)

Marissa Landrigan was a vegetarian for seven years before she decided to reincorporate meat into her diet. The writer and associate professor at Pitt-Johnstown says many people who experiment with a vegan and vegetarian diet don't sustain it over a lifetime. Her new book, "The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Meat," explores her personal search for yummy, ethical food.

Communicating science headlines to the masses
(24:49 – 40:11)

A growing group of technical writers, journalists and institutional professionals are founding a new organization to help network and share best practices for people researching and writing about the science community. Organizers say the Appalachian Science Communicators will hopefully bridge the gap between shrinking traditional news outlets and a populace interested but ill-informed about how science affects our world.

Hear from the group's founders about their mission and an inaugural event Wednesday night at the White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield: 

  • Allison Hydzik, a former health and science reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and now a media relations manager at UPMC; 
  • Mark Roth, a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette science and medical reporter, now a freelancer and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University; and
  • Marissa Landrigan, writer and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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