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Toshiba ExploraVision Science Fair Ambassadors


Congratulations to the ExploraVision Ambassadors!

Ambassadors are listed in alphabetical order.


Heather Bascom, 8th grade Science teacher at Romig Middle School, Anchorage Alaska. Heather teaches 8th grade science at Romig Middle School in Anchorage, Alaska. She has had students involved in ExploraVision for 15 years, and has been teaching for 19 years. Heather is a PAEMST finalist for 2017. Last year, six of Heather’s teams earned ExploraVision Honorable Mention.

David Bond, Middle School science teacher at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in Maryland. David is a Gifted and Talented Resource teacher at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in Maryland. He has been participating in Exploravision at this school for the last six years. Previously, he participated at another school for over ten years. He has had honorable mention winners last year and at the other school where he participated in the competition. It is a perfect fit for the research class that he teaches to sixth graders every year.

Dianna Bonney, K-8 gifted classes teacher. Dianna teaches STEM-focused classes for Gifted students in grades K-8. For ten years, Exploravision has helped her to engage her students in integrated science, technology, and language learning. Through teamwork, her students improve their collaboration and communication skills while expanding their creativity. She says”I’m proud to have coached several Honorable Mention teams over the years and pleased to be recognized as one of Exploravision’s Top Teachers for the past three years.”

Jodie Brivic, Regional winner grades 4-6 in 2013, The Village School, Houston, TX. Jodie began her teaching career in New York City, before moving to Houston and joining the Village School. With twelve years of experience and a Master’s in Education, she now serves as both science teacher and Middle School Student Activity Coordinator. Her classroom focuses on STEAM and Project-Based Learning, which stresses making real-world connections and challenging students to find solutions to existing problems. Jodie has led winning teams in Houston Energy City and ExploraVision, in addition to being a four-time ExploraVision Regional winning coach. In 2015, Jodie was recognized as Teacher of the Year for her outstanding work with her students.

William Gilluly, gifted and talented specialist at John C. Vanderburg Elementary School in Henderson, NV. Prior to his career in teaching, he worked as an arts administrator in Micronesia. He has been teaching for nearly thirty years; first in elementary art then for the past fourteen years in the GATE program. He has coached numerous ExploraVision Honorable Mention recipients.

Elizabeth Kersting-Peterson, 2nd grade teacher at Homecroft Elementary School in Duluth, MN.
Elizabeth has taught Special Education, and regular education for 31 years. Ten years ago she developed a curriculum called Super science Friday. Super Science Friday actively engages students in hands on experiences. The overall culture of her class room is one of science students are encouraged to see themselves as Scientist. Each Friday students both academically challenged or academically gifted actively conduct hands on experiments, write lab notes, and use the scientific method. Reading, math, vocabulary, spelling and singing are incorporated into each investigation, making Friday afternoon a very exciting and magical learning time. It is on Friday that she uses the power of culture to engage students in the learning of science. She uses aspects of culture such as dress, music, ritual, and the language of science, which create a fun environment conducive to science learning. Central to Super Science Friday is the use of songs, puppets, and special outfit that heightens the excitement and fun that the kids so anticipate. She says “ExploraVision is perfect fit for students and my curriculum. Recently, I was named the Air Force Association Chapter Teacher of the year from the Bong Chapter. I was awarded a 2010 Toyota Tapestry Grant for excellence and innovation in science education. The grant allows my first graders the opportunity to pair up with University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) graduate students, to work on the Great Lakes Worm Watch, a research project regarding the threat that exotic earthworm species may pose to the long term stability of the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

Jan Lenon, 7th Science teacher at Villa Fundamental Intermediate. Jan says “What I love about ExploraVision is that my students get to compete on a national scale with other students. This last year after 5 years of having my students compete, we had an Honorable Mention winner! My students work in teams, research and write. It really doesn’t matter that they are mostly EL students without lots of parental support, what matters is that they are learning and growing as they work together. Some of their ideas are exciting and perhaps someday they will want to do more with ideas that germinated in their own minds.”

Sarah Malik, science and social studies teacher at Brighter Horizon School. Sarah has a Master’s degree in Biology for Educators from Clemson University and has been a science and social studies teacher at Brighter Horizon School since 2013. She is now the Principal of the school but continues to teach at least one social/science course to keep herself immersed in the fascinating world of innovation and technology. Last school year, 2016-2017 was our first time participating in the ExploraVision contest and our students had a great time collaborating together. They were excited to put their ideas together, brainstorm, and submit their entries. It is something we look forward to every year now!

Paul Paino, Science teacher at Wheatley School in Old Westbury, NY. During his thirty years at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury NY, and ten years at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington NY,  Paul has taught AP Physics and has directed two successful science research programs. He has mentored thousands of students in both local and national science competitions. He has been recognized for his achievements in education by his school district and by national organizations. He has worked as an Adjunct Professor of Education since 1990. A lifelong advocate of cooperative learning, Paul has written several papers on the subject and has delivered presentations at local and national conferences, including a seminar at Columbia Teachers College. Paul has been married to his wife, Teresa since 1976. He has four children and six grandchildren.

Bridget Phillips, 6th grade Science teacher at Academy for Science and Design in Nashua, NH. This is her fourth year working with students on ExploraVision, and her second year as making a grade-wide project. Bridget has been been a science teacher for six out of her nine years as a teacher. She has had several ExploraVision Honorable Mention winners. Bridget loves to see her students get excited about science and technology through ExploraVision. In her free time, Bridget enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband.

Christine Ramirez, elementary STEM teacher at Kemp Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD. In her STEM Lab, she engages kindergarten through 5th grade students in real-world problem solving projects that promote critical thinking and collaboration skills. Last year, Christine was honored as one of the Top 25 ExploraVision coaches.She is dedicated and passionate about serving her diverse and bilingual students, consistently raising their awareness and encouraging them to pursue the STEM careers of the future.

Sheryl Sotelo, STEM teacher in AK. Sheryl has taught for 31 years, seven years in Arizona and 24 years in Alaska. She has taught intermediate elementary grades, middle school and elementary special services, and the intermediate level in a Montessori school. She has taught in the rural Alaskan villages of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island and Unalakeet in the Bering Strait School District. She recently served as an Einstein Fellow at National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. and now works in rural Alaska teaching STEM education to teachers and students.

Jason Steele, Regional winner grades 7-9 in 2016, Evergreen Middle School, Redmond, WA. Jason teaches general education science along with our gifted program at a public middle school in Redmond, Washington. He is National Board certified in science, and he runs our school’s Robotics Program. Jason says”Over the past five years Exploravision has become a major component of our 8th grade science curriculum. Every year, I am amazed by the ideas students come up with. Not only does Exploravision address many of the NGSS, we use it to teach teamwork and how to manage large overwhelming projects by breaking them into small attainable goals.”

David Stone, National winner grades 10-12 in 2016,  University Laboratory High School, Urbana, IL. Dave is the science department chair and teaches Introductory Biology, Organismal Biology, Field Biology, and Genetics at University Laboratory High School in Urbana, IL. He has coached five national winning ExploraVision teams. Examples of his students’ projects can be found at https://thingsbiological.wordpress.com/exploravision/ . He says “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.”

Ben Vallejo, science teacher at Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, CA. Ben is a National Board Certified Teacher teaching physics, chemistry, and marine biology in a Los Angeles public school. His classroom focuses on relating the physical sciences to marine environmental issues. He was recognized as one of the Top 25 coaches in the 2016 ExploraVision. Beyond the K-12 classroom, Ben inspires students of all ages at community college and university levels, both on ground and in the online classroom.