March 2014
Outliers: Students in ACTION

Outliers: Students in ACTION is a monthly publication during the academic year highlighting students and events in the Science and Math Education in ACTION Choose Ohio First program at BGSU. 

Note from the ACTION Director


For the past couple of decades, leaders in business and industry have been surveyed to determine the most important competencies needed in the workforce. If you had to guess the #1 skill they seek, what would you say? If you said the ability to communicate effectively, score yourself one point! Above all else, employers say that they want people who can communicate individually and in a team, as well as people who can solve problems in the workplace.


In the ACTION program, we believe it's important for students to have opportunities to develop their communication skills in many different venues. During the Summer Bridge, our first-year students are required to write reflection papers, to create a portfolio that communicates their major revelations of the summer, and to present a poster at the Showcase Event on the last day to family, faculty, and guests. At the conclusion of their first year, students present a poster and a PowerPoint on the results of their research projects at the annual Choose Ohio First Research Symposium. These presentations are made to family members, administrators, and peers in a formal setting. Some of these students go on to present their findings at state or national level meetings of science and/or mathematics educators. During the second year, students perform their practicum internship experiences and, in turn, write a report for an employer and a reflective paper for the director, and they make a PowerPoint presentation to peers in their second-year cohort as well as for first-year students. Again, some of these students move on to present practicum experiences beyond the BGSU campus. Finally, students in the third and fourth years write a formal research paper. Beginning this spring, they will be communicating the results of their research at a meeting during the Common Time in April. It is my hope that many will move on with their faculty advisors to attempt to publish and/or present the research results beyond our campus as well. Therefore, by the time ACTION students graduate, they will have had numerous opportunities to write, create posters, and make individual and group presentations on their research. In turn, we play into the needs of employers who seek the strong communication skills we are developing.


As I write this column, letters are in the mail accepting a new Cohort 6 group of freshmen that will begin with Summer Bridge in July. I am excited to introduce these new students to ACTION and to welcome the class of 2018. Meanwhile, preparations have already begun to recruit a new Cohort 7 who will begin in the summer of 2015. We look forward to interacting with our new students as we say goodbye to our seniors who are currently on the hunt for teaching positions. After a long cold and snowy winter in Bowling Green, we are all anticipating spring and the remainder of the semester in ACTION.

ACTION Student Profiles


Ray Szparagowski - Cohort 2, Senior

AYA Integrated Mathematics


What helped you decide to be a teacher?

In high school I started helping classmates with science and math. I found that I really liked working with people to help them understand these subjects. Then, I realized I could do this for a living. I debated between teaching science and teaching math, eventually choosing the latter.

As a senior looking back, how have you changed since your freshman year? Everything has changed and I feel totally different. It's like a complete transformation for me over the past four years. Now that I'm student teaching, I don't even feel like a college student anymore; instead, I feel like a teacher.

Outside of ACTION, what have you gotten involved with at BGSU?

Fencing has been the activity that I've been most involved in. I started fencing day one of my freshman year and eventually became captain of the club for two years. When I become a teacher I hope to start a high school or junior high fencing club and teach students to fence. Roller blading is another activity I enjoy, and I organize "rollerblade gangs" of friends who blade around campus and the Slippery Elm Trail. I was an RA in Founders residence hall for two years and now work as a desk clerk in Founders. One summer I did research with CURS working under Dr. Midden with water quality analysis.

Tell us about your practicum during your sophomore year. My practicum at Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies in Findlay had me formatting and analyzing data from a series of tests on seals that were designed to be used in the lifts of bulldozers. I created an Excel program that could take the data and find the kinetic friction and breakaway friction at different speeds, pressures, and temperatures. My practicum taught me a lot about Excel and has even enabled me to show some "tricks" to my Cooperating Mentor Teacher to help him organize and analyze grades.

Tell us about your Capstone Project for ACTION. My research is focused on a "flipped" classroom format and its effects on student learning. As a student teacher in my math classroom at Penta Career Center, I'm in the process of gathering data using pre- and post-surveys, class discussions, and observations. I look forward to seeing the results.


What advice would you pass along? As a student teacher, keep your lessons together and organized since you can adapt and use these lessons for the rest of your life. I take notes at the end of each day to remind myself what went well and how to improve the lessons so I can refer to these down the road when I teach Algebra II again.

Fun facts? I am a grill master! I love to grill steak and ribs. My family takes a trip together every summer - this year we are going to Glacier National Park. 

Jessica Shearer - Cohort 4, Sophomore

Middle Childhood Education


What's been your favorite part of ACTION so far? First, I loved Summer Bridge. It was a great experience. It was nice to feel comfortable on campus during the fall and I was able to branch out sooner. It also helped to have such a close group of friends. The first day of classes my freshman year, I knew at least one person in each of my classes, which provided people to study with in all subjects.


When did you decide you wanted to teach? My desire started when I used to go to my younger siblings' schools and volunteer to help with their parties. Then, participating in the Teacher Prep program in high school confirmed that I wanted to teach middle childhood since I ended up in 4th, 5th, and 8th grade classrooms. I've always loved science and math so it was easy to choose these subjects to focus on.


Tell us about your freshman research project. I worked with Dr. Haney last year on a project for GLOBE where we researched the change in land cover over time in Bowling Green. Our group looked at Landsat images of BG from 1982-2012 and mapped those out based on different colors that correlated to various types of land. We reported our findings to GLOBE, which is an international organization.


You also had a great practicum experience...This fall I had the opportunity to work with Alan Sundermeier in an agricultural field doing soil testing to find the best way to provide nutrients for three different types of plants: corn, beans, and spelt (a grain). We used three different methods: conventional with fertilizer, organic with off-season planting without fertilizer, and integrated. Results showed that the organic method produced the most nutrients for corn and spelt while conventional provided the most nutrients for beans.


What have you gotten involved with over the past two years?

BGSEC restarted this year so I joined this science education organization. Additionally, I am a member of the newly formed Falcon Leadership Institute (FLI) which is a mentorship program reaching out to incoming freshmen. I've had to give up USG for now due to a scheduling conflict. During the academic year I have been an RA in Founders residence hall and this summer I will be a camp counselor in Kentucky for underprivileged kids ages 9-13 from all over the country. It will be a great experience for me as a future middle school teacher!


What do you do to get refreshed? As an RA in Founders, we have two rooms. I turned one room into a fort and put a TV in there. No homework is allowed in that space so I treat it like a fun room and invite friends over. It allows me to "get away" whenever I need a break.


Favorite TV show? Grey's Anatomy. It's been on for 10 years so it's kind of a dying show. Those who still watch are diehards like me.


Neatest place you've visited? I've been to Alaska a couple times since my relatives live there. Summer is great with 75 degrees every day. Shorts and sweatshirt weather is my favorite!


Random facts...I am musically challenged in all ways. In fact, I've never been able to whistle. Many have tried to teach me with no success. However, recently a music major taught me to play the scale on a trumpet in an hour!

Cohort Updates


As student teachers, Cohort 2 has been impacted by the large number of school cancellations this winter. Fewer days in the classroom has limited their ability to collect data for their capstone research projects up to this point. Now that March is here, we all hope for better weather and uninterrupted weeks of school. This will enable these seniors to complete data collection in the classroom and provide time to analyze the information. Final capstone papers are due in about six weeks, so they still have plenty of time to complete everything before the deadline.


Nicole Sloan discusses  research ideas with faculty advisor Sheryl Krotzer

Cohort 3 juniors came together in early February for a follow-up session which enabled Dr. Brahier to pass along reminders of what is expected for their research proposal due March 3 and answer any final questions.  Each scholar gave an update on his or her project. As we went around the room, the wide range of topics has become even more evident as literature reviews have resulted in themes being more thorough refined and developed.



Molly Conroy explains an item that might be found in a park 
Practicum presentations by Cohort 4 sophomores on February 18 provided a glimpse of future teachers interacting with students.  Standing in front of nearly 50 of their peers, those presenting shared details of their project, communicated what they learned, and engaged those in  attendance. To provide interaction 
Kevin Knapke passes out an activity
with the "audience," problems were passed out to be solved, Smartphones were used for several activities, a park simulation was created as students walked around the room to look at nature photos with bird sounds playing, and food "soil"samples were used to represent real dirt. Among other  things, these science and math practicums have resulted in creative ideas for future lesson plans.

Cohort 5 freshman scholars will be finalizing their research by next month in preparation for presenting at the Choose Ohio First Research Symposium on April 25.  Below are details of what Sandy Zirkes' research group has been doing with photos in the right column.


First-year students working with Sandy Zirkes are exploring randomness. Their research topic is Patterns in Randomness. Last semester they looked at different "random" things such as coin flipping. This enabled them to discover certain properties and patterns in randomness (including streakiness) and gave them a basis for how to proceed this semester. Their focus now is to research if similar properties can be found while playing corn hole. They are trying to determine if the number of times they throw a beanbag increases their chance of success/points and if their misses decrease over time. They are now beginning to analyze their data but, in general, have not seen the expected increase/improvement.  They will also use simulation to determine how "streaky" they are.


Often research doesn't produce the expected results. However, the group is learning a great deal in the process. Brittany Gates explains, "I have been learning how to better collect data and relearning some of the principles of statistics which I haven't used since my junior year of high school." They are also having fun together. "We have learned a lot about how to come together as a group and how to work with each other's strengths and weaknesses to accomplish a goal," adds Taylor Ernsthausen.


Sam Laderach provides a good summary of the experience: "This project has allowed me to improve upon my ability to work in collaboration with my peers. I also have learned that research requires patience, especially when you have to throw one hundred bean bags every other day until you are at one thousand throws. In addition, randomness is not always as random as it appears, and it is impossible for us as humans to make up a 'random' scenario. Finally, I have improved upon my ability to think critically and to consider ways to apply mathematical concepts in the classroom in a simple and enjoyable way."  



Group members from left to right: Sandy Zirkes, Courtney Wilcox, Collin Nissen, Brittany Gates, Calvin VerPlanck, Taylor Ernsthausen, and Sam Laderach


Upcoming ACTION Events:
BGSU Spring Break:  March 10 - 14

Practicum Presentations:  March 25 ...4:30-5:50pm

COF Showcase in Columbus:  Monday, April 14

Choose Ohio First Research Symposium:  Friday, April 25

Graduation Luncheon:  Saturday, May 10

March 2014













Jessie Wiandt B-day       

EDHD 3160 Proposals due to advisors


Sam Laderach B-day




Felica Beverick & Corrinne Sullivan B-day




Tyler Stevens B-day









Spring Break  




Rebekkah Gresh 


Spring Break ends             










Cohort 5 one-on-ones with Dr. B

Cohort 5 one-on-ones with Dr. B 


















Practicum Presentations



















Volume 3, Issue 3
In This Issue
Student Profile - Ray
Student Profile - Jessica
Cohort Updates
Join Our Mailing List

Cohort 6 Applicants


All students with complete applications were notified of decisions regarding ACTION the last week of February. If they accept our offer to participate, these scholars will be part of Cohort 6 starting in Summer 2014. We continue to spread the word about this scholarship opportunity, and applications are still being accepted from high school seniors via the ACTION website.


Presidents Day and Honors Scholar Day were two events hosted recently at BGSU, and ACTION used both events to inform students who might be considering a career as a science and/or mathematics teacher at the middle school or high school level. Thanks so much to all current scholars who helped with these events in February and continue to be wonderful advocates for ACTION! 

Spring Break Adventures


When asked about spring break plans, we found out many Cohort 3 members are looking forward to heading south after a cold Ohio winter. Below are those who responded with details on what they plan to do during their week off from classes in March. 


Betsie Naylor:  I'll be spending 2 days at Miamisburg Middle School for a placement, seeing Wicked, and working at GFS. 


Rachel Hack:  I will be here in Bowling Green working and hopefully making some road trips to Michigan to explore!


Kristi Frank:  I plan to escape from the world of grading papers and writing lesson plans to a world of tropic heat and sunshine in Florida (while of course keeping up with my BG classes since I will be going on my teaching school's spring break at the end of March!)


Alexa Woodburn:  I'm going to Florida with my neighbors. They have three kids, so I help take care of them and give parents a night off.


Brittney Poling:  My team and I will be competing in the college bowling sectionals in Allentown, PA and hopefully qualifying for nationals!


Lance Kruse:  I plan on going home and just relaxing since this will be my first time home all semester. I hope to work on some big projects and get ahead for the last part of the semester. 


Corrinne Sullivan:  I am escaping the cold and going to Naples, FL with my mom to visit my grandparents and celebrate my 21st birthday!


Megan Kelly:  I am going to Panama City Beach in Florida with a couple of my friends to hang out on the beach all week!


Felicia Beverick:  I am headed to Hilton Head with some friends (including Sarah High and Nicole Winhover) for the week to get out of Ohio into warmer weather! 


Ashten Graham:  I am going to spend the week at Disney World and Universal Studios.


Serena Newburger:  I am planning my summer trip to Israel and figuring out what my internship is!


Nicole Sloan:  I plan to spend a good amount of time in the classroom. I will be observing many different classrooms in math and language arts (for my endorsement) at my sister's school as well as the middle school in her district. 


Maggie Dowe:  I'm going to Orlando with my sister to spend time with my aunt and uncle in their retirement community.


Jen Tomasko:  I'm going down to South Carolina with my boyfriend to visit his mom!


ACTION Spring Seminar


During the ACTION Spring Seminar on February 25, scholars had the privilege of hearing from Mr. Terry Hartman, Vice President of Engineering and Research at Libbey Glass in Toledo. Mr. Hartman shared his personal experience in the glass industry and discussed various traits of successful and energized teams. He communicated that the need for engineers with strong math and science skills is at an all time high. In other words, good middle school and high school teachers in these subject areas could enhance the probability for more engineers in the future to help meet demand!


Dr. Brahier concluded the seminar with "business meeting" items, giving updates on pertinent information such as edTPA, proposed Methods and BGSU course changes, Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE), and more. Having all 100 scholars in the room at one time provides a unique opportunity for information that relates to the majority of the students to be communicated and allows for simultaneous feedback and questions from the entire group.


 Dr. Brahier and Mr. Hartman spend time catching up before the seminar

Students enjoy the light refreshments prior to the presentation


Kali Irvin, Maria Nielsen, and Shelby Fenn from Cohort 4 get caught up

Davis Gerber is called to the stage to assist Mr. Hartman with an activity


Collin and Brittany take turns 

 Taylor watches Calvin practice

The group discusses next steps in analyzing the data




As a Choose Ohio First grant program sponsored by the Ohio Board of Regents, our goal is to produce exceptional science and mathematics teachers who will impact the next generation across the state to improve in STEM areas. The need is great for good teachers in these areas.

Science and Math Education in ACTION 
308 Math Sciences Building, BGSU, Bowling Green, OH 43403 
Phone: 419-372-6562
Fax: 419-372-6092
[email protected]

Director: Dr. Daniel Brahier
Program Manager: Wendy Standinger
Program Secretary: Nancy Hoose