K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year, 2019

January 14, 2019

Emily Yim, Washington Alliance for Better Schools

2019 Award Recipient

Nominated by the Structural Engineers Association of Washington

Emily Yim

Emily Yim
Washington Alliance for Better Schools

Emily Yim, Executive Director of the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS), has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year in recognition of her many contributions to the STEM education of K-12 students.  WABS is a collaborative of eleven school districts that helps over a quarter million students graduate career and college ready.  To achieve its mission, WABS seeks to close achievement and opportunity gaps in historically underrepresented populations and increase academic achievement and career readiness for STEM fields.

As the visionary leader of WABS, she led the expansion of the After School STEM Academy program, which currently serves over 4,700 students every year.  The program is an engaging, hands-on STEM expanded learning opportunity for elementary and middle school students facilitated by industry volunteers to build awareness of STEM careers and career pathways.  During each session, STEM industry professionals lead hour-long small group activities with students to reinforce engineering concepts, share their workplace experiences, and highlight career pathways.

She was also instrumental in establishing a new program called Family STEM Night for students and families.  The program engages culturally diverse students and their multi-generational families in a five-week course of evening hands-on STEM activities to broaden understanding of career pathways and support family engagement. Conducted by industry volunteers, the program works to build opportunity for students of color and students who do not speak English as their first language.  By taking a holistic approach to exposing students and their families to STEM careers, the program empowers families to become engaged in their children’s education.

K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year, 2018

January 30, 2018

Elana Slagle, Starfish Education

2018 Award Recipient

Elana Slagle

Elana Slagle
Starfish Education

Nominated by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Elana Slagle, Starfish Education, has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year in recognition of her many contributions to the education of K-12 students.  She works with K-12 schools to develop and test new STEM curricula and provides professional development for Puget Sound area teachers on how to incorporate STEM into their daily lessons.

She is involved with four specific activities that demonstrate exceptional performance in improving K-12 STEM education.  They are Lindbergh Electric Airplane Flight (LEAF) STEM Challenge, curriculum development for the Washington Informal Science Education (WISE) Consortium, serving on the Champion’s Board for the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), and serving on the Educational Advisory Board for the Museum of Flight.  The LEAF STEM Challenge is an aircraft design competition for junior high and high school students.  They are given an electric motor and design constraints, and then asked to design an electric airplane to compete against other teams.  The student teams are required to document their work, present to a panel of judges, and demonstrate the capability of their airplanes to carry a payload.

The WISE curriculum for grade school students requires the students to design and build straw rockets.  These students then conduct a series of rocket launches to track the impact of different design features (size, weight, thrust, etc.) and plot the results.  The NGCP provides a math-centered cryptography project that helps the girls use and refine math skills and identify potential STEM careers by teaching them how to make, break, and decipher codes.

She is an active Educator Associate of AIAA and has served as the National STEM Chair.  She received the National Chairman’s Award for her work in STEM education in 2014.

K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year, 2017

January 18, 2017

Noah Crofoot, Lynnwood High School

Noah Crofoot
Lynnwood High School

2017 Award Recipient

Nominated by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Noah Crofoot, Lynnwood High School, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year in recognition of his many contributions to the education of K-12 students by showing them about science and exciting careers in engineering. A graduate of Western Washington University, he employs hands-on learning experiences for his physics students.  He has adopted inquiry-based laboratory exercises and conceptual teaching models.  His students annually compete in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Competition.  He makes all of his students build their own bridges and holds a class competition to select the top students to participate in the ASCE competition.  In this way, each student must design and build a bridge. As part of the competition, engineers are invited to come to the school and talk to his students about careers in engineering.

Working with another teacher, he started a Technology Student Association to create out of class opportunities for students to continue learning and growing in technology fields.  Students are required to go out and make real measurements and analyze real situations.  One example was a requirement to determine the ideal length of mud flaps for semi-trucks.  His required students to use kinematics to calculate the maximum angle a water droplet could leave a tire and not hit the car behind.

Many of his students are considering career options, and he routinely invites engineers into his classroom to inform students what it is like to be an engineer.


2015 K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher Award

January 25, 2016

Karl Ruff

Karl Ruff

Karl Ruff, Roosevelt High School

2015 (inaugural) Award Recipient

Nominated by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Karl Ruff, Roosevelt High School, has been selected as the recipient of the K-12 STEM Engineering Teacher of the Year Award.  In his ninth year teaching at Roosevelt High School, he has created an environment in the high school with the look and feel of a current state-of-the-art engineering and protyping shop.  It is a place where students can practice leadership and entrepreneurship while learning the fundamentals of engineering.  He allows the students to choose the engineering subjects that interest them and to work in self-directed teams.  Students can choose beginning and advanced classes in Introduction to Engineering Design, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, or Project Management. Each period has a classroom project implemented by a student project manager who works one-on-one with a certified Project Manager Professional.  As part of the class, students are required to develop and deliver industry-level professional presentations.

Mr. Ruff brings to his work all of the elements needed in a great teacher: the ability to connect with students and help them find what is meaningful, deep content knowledge, a project-based approach, and a nimble sense of what students will need to know and learn in tomorrow’s global economy.

Mr. Ruff works with his fellow educators in the state to share best practices. He served on the executive board of the Washington Association of Career and Technical Educators of America and helped organize summer conferences which cross functional boundaries.  He is past president of the Washington Industrial and Technical Educators of America, the state organization of engineering and technology teachers.

Mr. Ruff is the faculty adviser for four student clubs at Roosevelt High School:  the Iron Riders First Robotics team, the Technology Student Association, the SME Student Chapter, and the Roosevelt Girls Rocket Club Team.  He clearly has been a leader in promoting and advancing STEM engineering related education in his high school.