VICENZA, Italy- Amy Ney, science teacher and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) proponent at Vicenza High School, has been an educator for 20 years. She started out in Great Falls, Mont., and earned a BA at Montana State University in Bozeman with majors in English and science.

"When I started college I was in pre-med. I always had a love for science, and I changed majors and went for education," Ney said. She first taught English and science with DoDDS, but over the years drifted into teaching science exclusively.

"That's kind of been my love," she said. "I think as a young child, what interested me was the hands-on discovery."

Ney credits a handful of teachers during her own school years, especially a chemistry teacher in Bozeman named Ray Hamilton, for encouraging her interest and her curiosity.

"The biggest thing was that they were open to my ideas," Ney said.

Parents can also play a critical role in encouraging girls and boys to engage with mathematics and the sciences. "Something as simple as when you're cooking in the kitchen, asking simple questions, like why is this bread rising? Or why does the soda can pop? Just stimulating their curiosity," she said.

The adoption of the present STEM curriculum in DoDDS grew out of conversations taking place across the teaching community about what employers were looking for in college graduates and young adults entering the work force in general, she said. The answer turned out to be "21st-century skills," areas that all come under the STEM rubric of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ney served with the bio-technology group of educator advisers assembled by DoDEA from among its teaching staff around the world to develop, test and certify curriculum proposals, which were submitted to Congress for approval before becoming part of the DoDEA worldwide curriculum in 2009.

DoDDS now offers STEM classes in four areas: robotics, green technology, biotech engineering and gaming, said Ney.

She pointed out that the field of bio-technology engineering is presently experiencing annual job growth of 70 percent. Brain power, perseverance and interpersonal skills can open the door to anyone with the ability and drive.

"The jobs that are going to exist in 10 years, we don't even know about yet because of the changing technology," said Ney.

Her watchword for young women, and for all students, as they progress toward adulthood?

"Find what interests you, focus on that and follow your dreams," said Ney.