Westminster welcomes John Greenplate, Senior Science Fellow at Monsanto, to the STEM seminar, Monday, November 14, at 7 p.m. in the Freshman and Sophomore Commons.
For 28 years, John has been a Research Entomologist for Monsanto where he has worked on the development, characterization, and stewardship of insect-resistant transgenic plants. He is a Monsanto Senior Science Fellow with numerous peer-reviewed publications and seven patents in the area of insect control in agriculture. For a significant portion of his career, he has been involved in improving developing nation agriculture through the introduction and stewardship of insect-protected biotech crops. He currently leads a large portion of Monsanto’s insect efficacy field testing program in the US and South America. John has served as a Medical Entomologist in the US Army in southern Afghanistan, coordinating surveillance and control of arthropod vectors of human disease. Many years ago he received an M.S. in Entomology from Cornell University (mosquito physiology), and a B.S. in Agriculture/Entomology from the University of Delaware. He’s been married for 42 years to Susan, and together they’ve raised three daughters, all Westminster grads and married with kids.
Dr. Zhang has a Ph.D. in Physics and is presently an actuarial scientist. He has published 12 scientific papers in internationally recognized scientific journals on cardiovascular physiology and nanotechnology. Dr. Zhang has worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes for low-income families, served as the chairperson of the Youth Astronomy Society of Peking University, and is an accomplished cellist and has composed a symphony!
Dr. Taylor completed both her PhD in biomedical engineering and her MD at Washington University in St. Louis in 2005. She is now a staff scientist at the WashU School of Medicine, where she studies pediatric brain tumors. In her studies of spinal cord injuries and brain tumors, she has performed neurosurgery on packs of mice and rats, designed nanoparticles and scaffolds for drug delivery to the brain, and grown cells from the tumors of dozens of Children’s Hospital patients to assist doctors in their research.
Dr. Thompson is currently manager of the ADME/Toxicology group in R&D at the Sigma-Aldrich Life Sciences and Technology Center in St. Louis. He attended Wheaton College as an undergraduate and majored in biology. He then continued his education at the University of Minnesota where he received a master’s degree in environmental health and later a PhD in biochemical toxicology from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Thompson has worked as a toxicologist in academic, government, industrial, and pharmaceutical settings. These include the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (North Carolina), Texas A&M University, and Searle/Pharmacia/Pfizer pharmaceutical companies (St. Louis) prior to joining Sigma-Aldrich in 2010. His current work focuses on the development of cell-based bioassays for toxicologists and drug metabolism scientists utilizing zinc finger nucleases as highly specific genome editing tools. He thinks toxicology is a great field to consider for students who are interested in science.
Hear from speaker Dr. Susan Bayliss, a professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. She’s the daughter of an army physician and began pursuing education in the medical field at a time when less than 10% of medical students were women!
As a part of new innovations and enhancements in the Middle School, Westminster now offers a STEM course in the Middle School. The course, required for all middle school students, takes an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to science, technology, engineering, and math. All of these disciplines are applied during the planning processes of each of the course’s four project-based units, in which students are assigned to construct a rocket, a CO2 dragster, an under-water robot, and a cardboard chair (with no adhesives) sturdy enough to support an adult.Learn More
“From a global perspective, math and science are not among Americans’ greatest strengths; the U.S. is simply not producing the world’s mathematicians and scientists,” says Hall. “As a Christian school whose mission it is to produce young men and women equipped to change the world, it is our job to jump into the gap – to fill this void. We want to prove to middle school students that science and math are not scary,” he says. “We hope that it, in turn, encourages students to think about a more focused approach to STEM when they get to high school.”
Hall says that while there are other middle schools in the area that do offer a STEM course, most do not require it, and most are “pre-packaged” curricula. He says, “Westminster’s middle school STEM course has been specially designed by our teachers so that students are able to draw connections between STEM principles and what they are learning in their other classes.”
Science Department Chair Dr. Andrew Shaw shares his reflections on the relationship between faith and science during a seminar at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
May 2, 2012
October 24, 2012
Last month, Westminster’s FIRST Robotics Team, Team 4256 – known as “The Cyborg Cats,” made a presentation to Boy Scout Troop 918 at St. Joseph’s Church in Cottleville. Team members introduced the Scouts to the FIRST Robotics Program and shared their personal experiences as part of Westminster’s 2012 rookie team, which was recognized with the Rookie All Star Award at the St. Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition and scored in the top 15% of all robotics teams that participated in the FIRST World Championship Competition.
A significant element of the FIRST program is community outreach and spreading the word to attract people in the community to the program and all that it has to offer. The team was excited when a director at Boeing Company, one of the team’s primary sponsors, approached a colleague and mentor of Westminster’s robotics team, Tim Terlouw, with the idea. Members of the team said this was a great opportunity to fulfill the mission of FIRST.
During the team’s visit, each Westminster student talked about his or her individual contribution to the robot design, build, or competition and how much they all enjoyed the experience. Sophomore Amber Terlouw shared that she joined the team expecting to work primarily in public relations but found herself helping in every area, including designing the drive train, constructing prototypes, and managing the pit area at competition. Senior Sea Sirisilp explained how he thought of his job as a programmer as “bringing life to the robot” and expressed how the support of everyone at Westminster and valuable partnerships with sponsors like Boeing, Siemens, Quest Specialty Products, and Bunge made it all possible.
Terlouw says the team was impressed with how attentive all the Scouts were to the students’ presentation. “Perhaps the most encouraging time of the evening was when the robot began to shoot basketballs into the crowd!” says Terlouw. “The Scouts encircled the robot for a closer look and asked pointed questions about its operation and the electronics involved. Our team definitely made a connection with the Scouts that evening, and we were honored that the troop invited us to participate!”
More information about Westminster’s FIRST Robotics Team can be found at www.cyborgcats.com and on the team’s Facebook page, Team 4256 Cyborg Cats.
October 16, 2012
Westminster Science & Engineering Club Piques Student Interest in Robotics and Engineering
The Westminster Science & Engineering Club has begun hosting a series of Battle roBots competitions that will run for the next few weeks. The competitions consist of small battles between miniature soccer-playing robots built by teams of 5-10 students. The object is for the robots to score points by pushing billiard balls around a small course into the goals.
The events were planned to show the school community the kinds of robotics activities in which the Science & Engineering Club students participate and to perhaps pique an interest within the student body.
Science & Engineering Club Mentor Lisa Harding says a number of students have already inquired about helping build a robot and join in the next competition. “The interest among the students was very encouraging,” she says.
All students are welcome to come to the Science & Engineering Club meetings and join in any activity. “We have had a great response from kids who want to be part of this year’s robotics team,” says Harding. “But it is always great to have more!”
Senior Sea Sirisilp developed the Battle RoBots game. He designed the game field, established the rules, and officiates the competitions. Furthermore, for the school’s Carnival during its annual fall festival, Wildcat Weekend, Sirisilp created a video to explain the game, as well as an automatic scoreboard. There will be two additional rounds of the Battle Bots competition after school in the Grand Entry over the next two weeks, and the official First Robotics Season will begin in January.
Members of Westminster’s 2013 robotics team the Cyborg Cats share details about this year’s upcoming competition. For more information about this year’s team, visit cyborgcats.com.
December 20, 2012
Middle school students launched the CO2 dragsters they constructed in STEM class, a course required for all middle school students that takes an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to science, technology, engineering and math. STEM teacher Dale Beachy says the students applied Newton’s second law of motion for this project as they designed the cars using a CAD program and then cut and shaped them out of balsa wood blanks.
Science, technology, engineering, and math are all applied within each of the course’s four project-based units, in which students are assigned to construct a rocket, an under-water robot, and a cardboard chair (with no adhesives) – in addition to the CO2 dragster. The course also encourages key 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, and problem solving.
Regarding “Schools are aiming to boost interest in science and math” (March 4): There are two additional reasons why our colleges and universities are not producing enough STEM graduates with the critical skills needed by today’s employers. First, research shows that the childhood of many of today’s scientists — particularly the large number retiring in the next decade — included discussing the space program around the dinner table, visiting national parks and museums on family vacations, collecting bugs, tinkering with machines on the farm or playing with the erector set or the “dangerous” chemistry kit that they received for Christmas. Virtual reality and video games are poor substitutes. It is no wonder that robotics and other hands-on experiences now are critical components of the pre-college curriculum.
Second, also indicative of the changes in our culture over the last several decades, is the demise of the work ethic that made this nation great. A major in science or engineering is hard work and must begin well before college, as indicated by the sad fact that about half of all students who enter college intent on majoring in a STEM field quickly drop out. Nothing can take the place of a rigorous regimen of well-crafted science and math courses and the encouraging, ongoing support of teachers, family and friends.
Our scientific and engineering prowess is integral to our national defense and prosperity. These, in turn, are necessary for a free society to create and enjoy everything that makes a culture worth preserving.
Andrew D. Shaw • Chesterfield
Director, STEM Education, Westminster Christian Academy
August 15, 2012
Our 2012 FIRST Robotics team qualified for the world championship after being recognized with the “Rookie All Star Award” – the highest award a rookie team could receive – at the St. Louis Regional Competition! This video was produced, directed and written by Westminster juniors Violet Kouzes, James Hoekzema, and Sarah Yousef.
Westminster Christian Academy science teacher Lisa Harding talks about the recent Boeing grant for robotics and what it means for students.
Head of School Jim Marsh shares how we are advancing in academic excellence to best prepare students to be difference-makers for Christ through new opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.
Members of the Westminster robotics team The Cyborg Cats – a Boeing-sponsored team – explains their passion for engineering and robotics and how the process of building a robot and preparing for the FIRST robotics competition for the past two years has provided them an outlet to do what they love and learn in the process. Learn more in the video that Boeing filmed for their website.
1. STEM Major: Track 1 (Math/Science)
2. STEM Major: Track 2 (Math/Science/Engineering)
3. STEM Major: Track 3 (Biology)
4. STEM Major: Track 4 (Engineering/Programming)
** ASE equivalent: with pre-approval by the Science Department, the following activities qualify as equivalent experience: STARS Program, STEM Internships, Independent STEM related Research, STEM related Summer Camps, Engineering and Science Competitions, FIRST Robotics.
|ASE||Applied Science Experience (Real-world science experience)|
|CAD/CAM||Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (Semester-long class using Siemens NX)|
|CEA||Civil Engineering and Architecture (a PLTW class)|
|EDD||Engineering Design and Development (a PLTW capstone class) (This class is presently called ASR (Applied Scientific Research)|
|IED||Introduction to Engineering Design (a PLTW class)|
|PLTW||Project Lead the Way (A national program providing engineering curriculum to high schools)|
|POE||Principles of Engineering (a PLTW class)|
|STARS||Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (a summer research program organized by UMSL)|
|STEM||Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (describes a general curriculum involving these disciplines)|
Monday, September 11, 7 p.m.
9th and 10th Grade Commons
Eric’s 20-year career at Monsanto has focused on process technology, which can be defined as “the science of inventing, developing, operating, and improving processes for producing and manufacturing products.” He is a Senior Science Fellow and has multiple patents key to Monsanto’s businesses. He is currently Director for the Trait Delivery program in Monsanto’s biotechnology organization, where his team is responsible for the process technology for producing genetically-modified and gene-edited crops. Earlier in his career, he was responsible for developing process technology for products such as Roundup™ and other chemical and biological products important to Monsanto’s business. He also has process technology experience in other industrial sectors, including petrochemical production, polymer manufacturing, microelectronics material production and nuclear-fuel refining.
Eric has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Washington University.
He and his wife Sharon have been married for 24 years. They live in Chesterfield and have three children who are current or former Westminster students: Samuel (’19), Chloe (’19), and Isabel (’16).