During my first years of teaching I had a group of Ecology students that was the most challenging of all my classes. Most of them were not interested in science, and keeping their behavior in check was a daily struggle. However, on a whim, I encouraged them to form an Envirothon team. To my surprise, a group of students jumped at the chance and completed all the preparations needed to compete at the local event. I originally involved students in that first Envirothon competition in an attempt to generate more interest in science. Little did I realize that the most powerful change the event would inspire had nothing to do with science, but instead had everything to do with what the students learned about themselves. Behavior issues in the classroom suddenly began to fade away. Thanks to that first experience as an Envirothon coach, I learned some valuable lessons about the power of academic competitions and other extracurricular activities. First, teen-agers are aching to experience success. Secondly, you never know what a student can accomplish until you give him/her the room to explore and the opportunity to shine. Finally, the unique relationships you develop with students through these activities have the potential to impact student learning in your classroom and beyond.
FIRST LEGO League
While living in the U.S., I established my community's inaugural FIRST LEGO League team by founding a non-profit organization - the Youth Science and Technology Association. After moving to Korea, I continued the tradition by creating and coaching a team, providing elementary students with their first tournament experiences. FLL Teams learn about programming, teamwork, and various current events by designing a robot and a presentation of their research.
State Tournament (2013, 2014)
Presentation Award (2013, 2015)
Programming Award (2014)
Korea Robot Championship (2017)
In Knowledge Bowl, students compete on teams to answer a variety of trivia-type questions. Teamwork is essential to this competition, so practices are used to coach specific skills such as clear and positive communication.
Regional Tournament (2007-2015)
State Tournament (2012, 2015)
Science Bowl/Science Olympiad
Science Bowl is sponsored by the Minnesota Academy of Science and takes place once a year. Students compete against other school teams on questions from a variety of science topics.
Science Olympiad is a similar competition that takes place in Seoul, Korea.
National Middle School Science Bowl (2009)
Korean National Science Olympiad Quiz Bowl Champions (2017)
Youth Energy Summit
The Youth Energy Summit organization empowers students to create energy action projects impacting the local and national communities. While in the U.S., I initiated the school's YES Team and was their advisor for many years. Sample projects they accomplished include: solar lights for a local river trail, recycling at the school, Community Center, and outdoor athletic facilities, motion-detector lighting in school locker rooms and bathrooms, an environmental video contest, and various education initiatives in the community and school.
1st, 2nd, or 3rd Place Team Awards (2008-2014)
Minnesota State Fair Best of Community Showcase Award
Samsung Solve For Tomorrow Regional Winner
Nearly $100,000 in awards and grants for the Springfield Public School District.
During an Envirothon competition, teams of students work together to answer hands-on questions about water, wildlife, soils, and forestry. The events are held in various outdoor locations, and each team also presents a solution they've prepared for a current event problem.
State Tournament (2004, 2008, 2013, 2014)
Students from around the state answer a series of online questions about neuroscience. While in the U.S., my Anatomy & Physiology students all completed the initial round of the event. Top scorers are invited to the Brain Bee at the University of Minnesota. During this competition, they are asked oral questions about neuroscience in a "spelling bee" type format.