ANNUAL SPRING MEETING
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Spring Meeting Deadlines
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Dan Sitzman is a Omaha Public Schools Science Educator with 31 years experience at middle and high school level. As a biology and chemistry teacher at Omaha North High Magnet School, he received the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. Dan then served as Curriculum Specialist at Omaha North for 12 years, remaining directly involved with students as co-sponsor for the school's Science Olympiad and Science Bowl teams, mentoring Science Fair students and directing Omaha North STEM Summer Camps. Since 2015, Dan has served as a districtwide Science Instructional Coach, supporting science teachers at 12 middle schools and seven high schools. He continues to mentor student science researchers, including many who have presented at the American Junior Academy of Sciences. His professional leadership at the local, state, and national level includes terms as President of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science, and, currently, the Metropolitan Science and Engineering Fair. He presently serves on boards for Nebraska Science Festival, Nebraska Science Olympiad, Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences, and on the Long-Range Planning Committee for the Nebraska Academy of Sciences. For over two decades, he has taught at University of Nebraska-Omaha's Aim for the Stars Summer STEM Camps. When he is not bicycling or hiking with his family, Sitzman researches and catalogs the histories of local organizations, including high school sports teams, the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science, and the Nebraska Academy of Sciences. Dan earned a B.S. in natural science from St. John's University (MN) and an M.S. in curriculum and instruction from University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Maiben Memorial Lecture Overview
The Nebraska Academy of Sciences is one of the oldest academies in the United States, with a history reaching to the early days after statehood. During its 142 years, the Academy membership includes names and discoveries familiar to Nebraskan, as well as people and events that are now cloaked by time. The 2022 Maiben Memorial Lecture will trace the organizational ancestry of the Academy, connecting the present day with those who came before us.
2022 Friend of Science
Julie Sigmon, Director, Omaha STEM Ecosystem
Julie Sigmon has experience in the education, non-profit and business fields for over 40 years. She is currently serving as the Director for the Omaha STEM Ecosystem, a backbone organization in support of a collective impact initiative to grow the number of STEM professionals to create a balance between industry demand and available talent.
Her previous experiences involved Special Education teacher, school administrator, Chief Operating Officer of a local non-profit youth organization and contract work around quality in STEM programs, specifically Out of School Time programs, as well as serving as the external evaluator for the NE STEM 4U program at University of Nebraska at Omaha. She currently serves on the Board for Clarkson College, Heartland Workforce Solutions Youth Council, NE Beyond School Bells Network, Omaha Chamber Education Advisory Council, Women In STEM/BioNebraska Leadership, Aviation STEM Day, Metro Science and Engineering Fair, NE Science Festival and Member for the Blueprint STEM Ralston School District.
Chris Schaben, Omaha Public Schools
One of Schaben’s direct impacts on improving science instruction is encouraging and expanding high altitude ballooning in our school district. When evaluating the experiences of five Omaha Public Schools high school students who designed experiments flown on one of the last space shuttle missions, Schaben sought a means to engage more students with a highly accessible and economical opportunity to send experiments into space. By connecting with local and national practitioners, within a year, Schaben implemented “Omaha Public Schools’ Near Space Students’ Experiments Program,” providing equipment and expertise for students from elementary, middle and high schools to send experiments of their own design 20 miles high. With 98 launches, the Omaha Public Schools has launched more high-altitude balloon experiments than most universities.Chris is an effective leader of local and state science and science education organizations. As a past-president of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Schaben guided us on the executive board through issues that could have damaged the organization without his skill and willingness to listen to others. He is a AAAS Fellow. He currently serves as Vice-President of the Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences, supporting and completing the transition of the organization into a 501(c)3 non-profit, expanding the acquisition of resources to support student researchers from rural and urban areas. As an advisor for the educational programming since the inception of the Nebraska Science Festivals, Schaben led a subcommittee that created a children’s participation guide that promoted careful observation and thinking about the exhibits to replace a word find and scavenger hunt that had been drafted by others.