Foothill Teacher Wins National STEM Award

Molly Rothman and her students celebrate their award.
Courtesy Photo

Foothill Elementary School teacher Molly Rothman got a big surprise Monday morning when the youth empowerment organization known as National 4-H Council showed up to her school to tell her she had won the national contest called “Teachers Bringing Science to Life.” The prize includes a $1,000 check to spruce up the classroom with supplies needed for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

The contest is designed to get kids engaged in STEM education and it awards teachers who encourage their students to explore the field of aerospace engineering. “It was fun,” said Rothman. “They had a great time.”

The contest took place at the start of the school year and hundreds of thousands of students all over the country responded to a fictional scenario in which a natural disaster leaves people stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean. The students have to create a “stomp rocket” to deliver food to the population using materials such as recycled bottles, cotton balls, and pipe cleaners. “The idea is to get them to have fun with it,” Rothman said. “Get their brains to work.”

Rothman is the science specialist at Foothill and gets to teach kindergarteners through sixth graders the fun, hands-on projects that are often too messy for classrooms. She is also the academic outreach coordinator for the Molecular, Cell, and Development Biology Department at UCSB.

“Molly is a terrific example of our nation’s STEM teachers, who are working hard every day to help our nation’s young people see the magic and rewards of a STEM education,” said Emily Simone, a representative with Lockheed Martin, which collaborates with 4-H to get Americans engaged in STEM education.

As for the $1,000, Rothman hopes to get hot water in her classroom or to replace some of her much-used equipment.


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