Meet the Ambassadors
Congratulations to the ExploraVision Ambassadors!
Ambassadors are listed in alphabetical order.
Danny Borges, National winner grades 7-9 in 2012, David Thompson Secondary, Vancouver
Danny Borges is a Science and Physics teacher at David Thompson Secondary in Vancouver. For several years, his Grade 9 students have participated in ExploraVision. In addition to the outstanding learning opportunity, his Grade 9's excell in ExploraVision competition. He says 'in 2012, a group of these Grade 9's won the Grade 7-9 division, and travelled to Washington, D.C. for an unforgettable experience."
Jodie Brivic, Regional winner grades 4-6 in 2013, The Village School, Houston, TX
Jodie Brivic serves as both science teacher and Middle School Student Activity Coordinator. Her classroom focuses on STEM and Project-Based Learning, which stresses making real-world connections and challenging students to find solutions to existing problems. In addition to being a two-time ExploraVision Regional winning coach, she was recognized as one of the Top 23 coaches in the 2015 ExploraVision. Beyond the classroom, Jodie inspires students to become involved in service projects and creates leadership opportunities within the school to instill a passion for philanthropy from an early age.
Margie Hawkins, Winfree Bryant Middle School, Lebanon, TN
Margie Hawkins is a Sixth Grade Science Teacher at Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, TN and has had students involved in ExploraVision for the past 9 years. She has been teaching for 14 years and has coached ExploraVision Honarable Mentions winners.
Robin Hill, Regional winner, grades 7-9 in 2015, Hyde Park Middle School, Las Vegas, NV
Robin Hill has worked for 16 years as a geologist before becoming a teacher. He taught ninth grade earth science for 8 years and now teaches accelerated seventh and eighth grade students at Hyde Park Middle School, Academy of Math and Science. He has coached the 2015 ExploraVision Regional winners in Grades 7-9 category.
Liz Meyer, National winner, Grades K-3 in 2015, Waldron Mercy Academy, Merion Station, PA
Liz Meyer is the Science Specialist at Waldron Mercy Academy. Liz has been teaching for 14 years at Waldron Mercy Academy. For the last 10 years she has served as coach for the NSTA Toshiba/ExploraVision competition. She enjoys having some great one-on-one time with student teams and encourages participation in all grade levels. She says “I am constantly amazed by the innovation exhibited by our students. It gives me such hope for the future!”
Kathryn Baham Fairmont Private School, Anaheim, CA
"ExploraVision does take a little extra time and work but can be used to your advantage. You can incorporate the National Science Education Standards into your class. You can motivate your students. You can teach your students to organize. And they can learn to communicate. I've watched as my students have learned how to problem-solve and work as a team. When my teams start the project, they are overwhelmed. But they take off when they gain confidence and realize that they can do this."
Jonathan Gastel Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
"I first got involved in ExploraVision last year, but the school has been involved since the inception of the contest. The kids who participate in the contest in my school are assigned the project and are required to do the work after school. You have to have some system to review your class projects towards the end."
Stacey Lamb Willow Grove Elementary, San Diego, CA
"I've been a second grade teacher for eight years. I discovered ExploraVision and have been doing it ever since. There are different ways to approach the program, so whatever works for your classroom, it is possible. It's a little more difficult at the youngest grade levels to assign roles, but at the upper grade levels, it is very easy to assign different roles in the project. As a classroom teacher, you are going to be sponsoring your students, getting them moving, facilitating the operation of the project and just making sure they are on task, talking and working together."
Louise McMinn Scofield Magnet Middle School, Stamford, CT
"A great thing about the competition is that by having the different grade categories, it makes it competitive at all levels. A key point of the contest is that the kids need to be able to get along. I've had students evaluate complex landmines to things as simple as medicine cabinets. Sometimes I've started as an afterschool club or presented the competition as extra credit, but it just depends on the logistics of your school."
Michael Lampert West Salem High School, Salem, OR
"ExploraVision is worth it. I've been coaching almost since the inception. I've coached kindergarteners, middle and high school students. We work as a cooperative group and the ideas just fly back and forth. I can't stress enough the beauty of the cooperative learning groups in ExploraVision. Kids have fun doing this project. I have kids coming up to me all of the time asking to do this."
Karen McClennen Merion Mercy Academy, Merion Station, PA
"In a given year, I usually have up to six teams in the 7 – 9 grade category and up to six teams in the 10 – 12 grade category. Submitting online is a great option!"
Tony Rose Northside Elementary, Palmyra, PA
"A bonus to the idea of ExploraVision is that it is free to enter but the rewards are enormous, not just for teachers but for mentors and students. This competition allows for students at different ability levels to thrive. There is a certain type of student you're looking for that will persevere through the process of this competition. Science is not just something done on an individual basis, but it's through the collaboration within groups where the best breakthroughs can occur."
Phyllis Serfaty North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, Great Neck, NY
"I've been doing ExploraVision for eight of the last 11 years, and I've sponsored 30 – 35 teams. I find that when students are really interested in something, regardless of their education level, they will explore it. It is that desire to find out that answer, to look for solutions, that spurs their interest and keeps them motivated."
David Stone University Laboratory High School, Urbana, IL
"I teach freshman biology and I sometimes coach students I don't have in class. I've been coaching ExploraVision since 1997 and I meet with my teams for about an hour a week. ExploraVision is a great opportunity for me to play with ideas and be creative with my kids. It's a great opportunity as a teacher to work with students on an informal basis."
Nancy Carter Mediapolis Community Schools, Mediapolis, IA
"I have been coordinating the program for gifted and talented students at Mediapolis Community Schools in Mediapolis, Iowa since 1993. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education in biology and chemistry and am endorsed to teach gifted and talented students in grades K – 12. My students have participated in ExploraVision for a number of years and the experience has been quite rewarding."
Diana Celle Holmes Elementary School, San Diego, CA
"I teach third grade at Holmes Elementary School in San Diego, California. ExploraVision has challenged many of my students over the years. I was fortunate to coach four national winning teams. All of my young ExploraVision participants enjoyed the fun learning process as they came up with their futuristic inventions. I've seen many changes in the contest over the years, but one thing remains the same: ExploraVision challenges students to be scientific and innovative team players."
Mary Harris John Burroughs School, St. Louis, MO
"I teach physical science at the middle-school level and chemistry to high school students at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri. I am also a Polymer Ambassador, so I write and present activities/laboratories for any grade level to help teachers incorporate polymers into their existing curriculums. I won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2002 and I have published various journal articles — the most recent is in the Journal of Chemical Education, October 2008, entitled 'Polymers in the Field and Track.' I have had students compete in ExploraVision since 1997. I coach one or two teams each year, from the eighth or ninth grades, and our school has won seven national awards. I really enjoy coaching small groups of students, as we all learn interesting science topics together!"
Deborah Kennedy Wando High School, Mt. Pleasant, SC
"I teach mathematics and pre-engineering at Wando High School, a public high school in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. I began teaching 10 years ago after working as a structural engineer for several years. I am a national board-certified teacher in mathematics, a Project Lead the Way master teacher in Civil Engineering and Architecture and a registered professional engineer. Last year I was awarded the Barbara H. James Award for Outstanding Career and Technology Educator in South Carolina. Two years ago, while searching the Internet for a group project idea for my design class, I discovered the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards competition, a multi-disciplinary, research-based, open-ended problem-solving opportunity. Of the four groups I coached, three submitted entries. Two of the groups were awarded honorable mentions in our region. The third group eventually became the Grades 10 – 12 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision national winners in 2007."
Serena McCalla Jericho High School, Jericho, NY
"By trade, I've been a biology teacher for 10+ years and I understand how difficult it is to add things to a busy curriculum but this competition is pretty simple and is very easy to incorporate it into the framework of your studies. I never participated in ExploraVision before winning, so being a newbie in ExploraVision and submitting 27 entries was exciting."
Diane Pollitt Heatherstone Elementary School, Olathe, KS
"I've been teaching elementary school gifted and talented students for almost two decades, and currently teach in Olathe, Kansas. I've been involved with ExploraVision for 16 of the program's 17 years. Over the years I have coached regional winning teams in second, third, fifth and sixth grade. One fifth grade team won the ExploraVision national award in 2006 and numerous teams have earned honorable mention recognitions. I feel that through the use of a variety of hands-on, project-based learning experiences and a process of questioning, exploration and discovery, students acquire learning skills they'll use their entire lives."