For more than 20 years, Andy has used innovative training and curriculum development to help thousands of teachers make an impact in STEM education. Now, as part of the National AfterSchool Association, Andy the Science Wiz continues his mission of empowering afterschool professionals to put the "WOW" into their STEM education.
Andy was born and educated in the United Kingdom, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics & Microelectronics and earned a teaching credential. After two years as a high school physics teacher, his passion for travel and adventure brought him to the United States. Searching for a unique science education experience, he became an Outdoor Education Naturalist, working with sixth-graders at 6,000 feet. In the fresh mountain air he discovered the power of hands-on, child-centric learning. Inspired by the natural curiosity his students displayed outside the classroom, Andy left the formal classroom and joined Science Adventures, a small regional STEM enrichment company. As a teacher, manager, trainer and finally director of curriculum development, Andy helped the company grow to become a national STEM provider to more than 40,000 children yearly. Being at the forefront of STEM enrichment in a variety of programs throughout the U.S. afforded Andy the experience to develop from outstanding teacher to STEM education leader.
What excites you most about your new role with NAA?
I'm Andy the Science Wiz—and you can be a STEM superstar! I'm excited to share simple active-learning strategies that use natural curiosity as a foundation to turn any afterschool professional into a STEM superstar. My goal is to present pedagogical "aha!" moments that inspire adults to promote creative thinking and problem-solving with young people.
What are your best tips for afterschool professionals working to implement STEM learning into their programs?
Young people are natural scientists. They love to explore, invent, build and figure things out.
- Encourage an atmosphere of discovery by providing hands-on problem-solving activities and encouraging open-ended questions. The role of the adults in providing effective STEM experiences is to facilitate, rather than dictate.
- Strive to create an atmosphere where failure is just a natural part of any experiment—one that accompanies taking risks and trying out ideas.
- Finally, understand that effective active-learning STEM experiences can play havoc with your lesson plan. As facilitators, adults need to be willing to deviate from their lesson plans. They also should be willing to follow the direction in which children's investigations and decisions take them.
Where and when should we expect to "see" you?
I'll be providing STEM news, professional development and other resources for the NAA community. Keep an eye out for communications that include effective strategies for teaching STEM and simple STEM experiences to share with the kids in your programs. I'll also be live, in-person at #NAA16 to provide hands-on STEM workshops that will help make you a STEM superstar.