BYU professor receives STEM Innovation Award for mentoring teachers and students

On Wednesday, May 11, BYU professor Steven Shumway received a STEM Innovation Award for his excellence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning and achievement. This was the second annual STEM Innovation Awards ceremony hosted by the STEM Action Center in partnership with the Utah Technology Council.

Executive director of the Utah STEM Action Center, Tamara Goetz said in a press release, “The STEM Action Center’s STEM Innovation awards are unique. With the variety of categories, we highlight the fact that it takes ‘a village’ to achieve success in STEM education. These awards recognize the outstanding commitment and contributions from all sides but put a special spotlight on the amazing achievements of our friends and colleagues.”

Shumway is a professor for the Technology and Engineering Education program in the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology. He is an active member of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and was previously a president of the Utah Technology and Engineering Educators Association.

Shumway’s main research field is motivation in the classroom. He is working to integrate programs into elementary, middle and high schools to incorporate engineering and technology into the regular math and science curriculum.

“We are hopeful that this is going to make their science and math experience more rich and fulfilling,” Shumway said. “We go in and we say, ‘we’ve got a challenge. We want you to create a solution for the challenge.’ And the kids love it.”

By the time many students reach high school, they have already made up their mind about whether or not they enjoy math or science. By engaging students in elementary school, Shumway is hoping to put a stop to these pre-conceived notions. Through this program, students are able to see context and application of what they are learning about and can develop a love and a passion for STEM before they even reach middle school.

Shumway works with teachers and their students in local schools to help implement hands-on activities to enrich the learning experience. Students not only learn about the principles of math and science, but are able to apply what they have learned and create something physical using those principles.

“I love when I go into a school and I’m just watching from the back, and I see the excitement of all the young students. It’s good to see this and confirm that this might make a difference in the lives of some of our students,” Shumway said.  

When asked what receiving the STEM Innovation Award meant to him, Shumway said, “It made me feel good about my efforts with working with the teachers. It mostly confirmed that what we are doing is a worthwhile endeavor.”

Between February and April of this year, nominations for the award came pouring in from the general public. After careful consideration of each candidate, the STEM Action Center team and the STEM Action Center Board chose five recipients of this year’s award in the categories of student, teacher, principal, mentor and counselor. The award was accompanied by a $2,000 cash prize to further STEM research in Utah for the adult winners and an iPad mini for the student recipient. 

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