NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 21, 2014) -- Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, will be among those cheering the loudest when Natick High School's Doug Scott is recognized as the 2014 Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year on Oct. 22 during the Massachusetts STEM Summit at the DCU Center in Worcester.
The award, given by The Hall at Patriot Place and Raytheon, recognizes teachers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for achievements in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. Natick High School will receive $5,000 to be used for STEM education.
NSRDEC, which is dedicated to advancing STEM education and outreach to local schools, nominated Scott for the prestigious award.
"I feel honored that Natick Labs nominated me for this award," said Scott. "By providing financial support, professional mentors, and even facilities for a summer camp, Natick Labs was a major reason that we were able to get a STEM program running at Natick High School.
"There were many other worthy candidates so I am little surprised I was selected."
But NSRDEC employees were not surprised. Scott has worked with NSRDEC to provide his students with hands-on STEM experiences, and researchers here have taken notice of his work, enthusiasm and impact across the STEM community.
"The NSRDEC wanted to nominate Doug Scott for all the collaboration we have done with him over the last three or four years, which has helped us grow our STEM outreach program," said Joanna Graham, STEM outreach coordinator for the NSRDEC, who led the effort to prepare the nomination package. "If you don't have educators who feel motivated and connected to the larger community, our STEM outreach would struggle. But Doug has been instrumental in this relationship. We wanted to be among the other voices who say 'What you're doing matters.'"
It's not hard to see why. Scott's vast list of career accomplishments has had a direct and positive impact on both his own students and those across the state.
At Natick High School, where Scott has taught robotics and information technology since 2003, he created a new STEM curriculum and a robotics program, and carved out four STEM spaces within the school while acting as the lead teacher for the Natick afterschool FIRST robotics Team, called ROBONATICK. What started out four years ago with only a handful of students now has 25 students participating, including eight female students, with three teams competing nationally.
"When my daughter started high school, she did not want anything to do with science or technology," said Michele Sweeney, mother of Katelyn Sweeney, a recent graduate who is now attending MIT as a freshman studying biomedical engineering. "However, she found Mr. Scott's inspiring teaching methods and enthusiasm for technology contagious. She went on to take the A+ certification, joined the computer network design team, the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam, and volunteered each summer at his robotics summer camp for middle schoolers. No doubt about it -- this teacher changed my daughter's life."
Last spring, Scott led the Natick High School Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam to the White House Science Fair, where they presented their project -- a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, that can assist firefighters in underwater search and rescue dives for victims trapped under the ice -- to President Obama.
The team refined their project along the way with technical guidance from NSRDEC scientists and engineers.
"The mentorship has given them opportunities they would never have had," said Scott of the students. "And it's been great for them to work with professional engineers in a way they would never be able to."
The device is a two-part design that uses a tread-wheeled ROV to traverse the ice to the point-of-entry hole, where an embedded crane then lowers a smaller, amphibious ROV equipped with an underwater camera system into the water. The submersible vehicle then searches beneath the water for the victim, ideally locating and latching onto its target for the rescue diver to retrieve.
The ROV was tested by Massachusetts firefighters and was publicly recognized for its innovation by Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick and President Obama. The ROV is currently under patent review with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, filed by the students who developed it.
At the state level, Scott is the lead for a number of other STEM initiatives, including the Massachusetts Business Professionals of America Network Design, which provides STEM certifications focused on the mastery of individual skills, courses in A+ and Mac+ certifications. Scott also co-authors a STEM project summary newspaper that is distributed to multiple teachers across the state, and he developed a "How to start a STEM program from scratch" professional development seminar for Framingham State University's STEM certificate program.
Allison Scheff, the executive director of both the Governor's STEM Advisory Council and STEM at the Department of Higher Education said she believes that Scott is an "excellent example" of a teacher who has gone above and beyond to get students interested in STEM.
"It is our hope that the STEM Teacher of the Year will be able to connect with as many teachers and members of the STEM community across the commonwealth (as possible) to share some of his best practices that have results inside and outside the classroom," Scheff said.
The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.