Northern Virginia teacher wins Deloitte-Sally Ride Science Award for Teaching Innovation in STEM

After SchoolSally Ride Science announced on Wednesday the winners of a nationwide contest for K-12 educators in the U.S. to recognize innovations in instruction related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as well as STEM careers.

One of two second-place winners was Ji Ahn, a teacher at Hunters Woods Elementary in Reston, Virginia. Her innovation is a multifaceted program developed to introduce girls to the engineering design process through a series of hands-on, problem-based design challenges and enable them to meet female engineers through a guest speakers series.

Hunters Woods will be receiving a $2,500 check, as well as a Sally Ride STEM License—which will deliver innovative online professional development, dozens of Teacher Guides with lessons and activities, and interactive eBooks to the school.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges that included: Ira Flatow, the award-winning TV journalist and host of PRI’s Science Friday radio show; René McCormick, Executive Director of Science Programs at the National Math and Science Initiative; and Dr. Sandra Magnus, former NASA astronaut and Executive Director at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Judges said Ms. Ahn’s innovation “is a really great way to get girls involved in engineering… it parallels what Sally Ride Science is trying to do,” and that it shows “a direct influence in the career choice of participants” and is also “an excellent way to get girls interested in engineering careers early on and build their confidence and awareness of their potential!”

“Introducing students to the opportunities in STEM fields is a growing priority throughout our educational system,” said Tam O’Shaughnessy, Cofounder and CEO of Sally Ride Science. “We know that we need to cultivate scientific literacy throughout the K-12 years, and teachers will be the ones to make that happen. We are grateful that Deloitte has generously taken this step with us, to reward the ideas that are already out there, and spur even more innovation around STEM learning in the years ahead.”

Ms. Ahn welcomed the award. “As an arts and sciences magnet school, Hunters Woods has always valued preserving and promoting children’s innate joy of learning through exploration and discovery,” she said. “Junior Engineers-in-Training (JEiT) is one of the programs here that offers such an experience to our fifth- and sixth-grade girls. We’re so pleased and honored to use the funding provided by Sally Ride Science to enhance our science department to benefit all of our students and strengthen the JEiT program. Our goal is to inspire a new generation of innovators and creative thinkers! Thank you, Sally Ride Science, for helping us reach that goal with funding and a Sally Ride STEM License.”

The Sally Ride-Deloitte Teaching Innovation in STEM contest, launched in summer 2014, collected more than 100 entries from across the United States. Entries were submitted via Sally Ride Science’s (an online library of resources for educators).

First place ($5,000 cash prize and a Sally Ride STEM License) went to Ryan York, a teacher in the RePublic Charter Schools organization in Tennessee and Mississippi for his free, open-source computer programming curriculum and teacher training program. There was an additional second-prize winner who also received $2,500 and a Sally Ride STEM License for her school, as well as five third-place finishers, each of whom earned a $1,000 award for their schools. To view winning entries, visit:

About Sally Ride Science: Sally Ride Science was cofounded in 2001 by Dr. Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, to empower educators in grades 3-8 to spark and sustain student interest in STEM topics and careers. The company’s pioneering professional development and engaging classroom tools help teachers build students’ STEM literacy and make connections between what students are learning and the exciting STEM fields that offer so many opportunities in the 21st Century economy. The goal is to inspire more students to stick with their interest in STEM as they go through school so they keep alive the option for further study and meaningful work in STEM fields. For more information,

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