Mercy STEM Defies COVID-19 Limitations Through Educational Video Showcase


Despite the trying times and difficult circumstances that 2020 has presented thus far, a great deal of positivity continues to endure. Associate professor and co-director of the Mercy College Center for STEM Education (CSE), Dr. Amanda M. Gunning continues to highlight the importance of STEM Education. Her decision to participate in the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase has led to people from all over the world learning about the Mercy College STEM Teacher Fellows program.

Collectively, the presentations that are entered into this online film festival address a broad range of topics including science, mathematics, computer science, engineering, cyberlearning, citizen science, maker spaces, broadening participation, research experiences, mentoring, professional development, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the Common Core learning standards.

Last year’s STEM for All Video Showcase, with its 242 video submissions, is still being accessed and has had over 89,256 visitors from 7,852 locations to date. This year’s showcase took place from May 5 to May 12 and has already had 56,405 visitors from 6,937 locations globally.

Gunning titled the project: “Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows in the Greater New York City Area,” and in it, three of the 14 K-12 STEM Teacher Fellows are featured discussing their experience with the Mercy College STEM Master Teacher Fellows program while practicing the theme of this year’s showcase: the process of “learning from research and practice.”

With each new year comes a new theme, and this is its sixth. Over the course of one week, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and the general public are invited to view each video presentation, engage with the presenters, and vote for their favorite videos. Without funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal organizations, the programs – that are the very fuel of events like this showcase – wouldn’t be possible.

Gunning is the Principal Investigator on the STEM Master Teacher Fellows program and she expresses the positive impression that their 14 fellows have made.“Although we are only wrapping up year two [of the six-year program] right now, I have already witnessed so much growth and encouragement by our teachers.” 

Mercy’s Center for STEM Education is one of 171 institutions nationwide that shared their unique STEM-related projects in this year’s video showcase. 

Gunning is pleased to have received such tremendous feedback from viewers. 

“The STEM for All Video Showcase allowed us to share this project with a wide audience, as it was viewed all over the world and drew comments from different stakeholders and professionals,” she says. “I just think that it is really exciting that during this time with the pandemic, we are still able to share the great work that this program is doing to support teachers in learning how to teach STEM in high-need schools with underrepresented populations.”

The comments that viewers made about the video during the showcase were all similarly supportive. One comment, in particular, came from Jessica College, a colleague indirectly associated with Gunning’s program. Her words are proof of the positive impact that the STEM projects have even from outside perspectives.

“Having one of my student teachers work with one of your fellows was an amazing and transformative experience for him to see himself and his learners as capable in ways he didn’t know were possible,” she stressed. “Projects like this are one of the most important things we can actually do to really have an impact on the STEM pipeline. It’s not for show, it’s for real. Students need teachers who care about them, can connect with them, and understand how to make STEM real in their lives. This project does that.”

The showcase and its feedback have become chief assets to all participants on their journeys, high school math teacher Marguerita E. Street being one of them.

“It was an honor to read all of the positive feedback from other participants in the showcase.  It was also great to see other videos and see the great work in STEM that educators are doing all over the country. At every turn, I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the STEM movement!”

Gunning echoes the sentiment. “The leadership team feels this project will help make a difference in the lives and education of not only the K-12 students of the fellows, but also in the district and community.”

Her words ring true according to Street.

Participating in this project gave me an opportunity to share the great work that we are doing in STEM,” Street explained. “As a result, several of my colleagues have reached out to me and inquired about what we fellows are doing in STEM education. I am excited to have such a strong support team both at Mercy College and in my school district to help us reach our goal of providing students with access to quality STEM education.”

Eighth grade Yonkers life science teacher, Kiowa Garcia, agrees with Street that though the COVID-19 pandemic is a surreal and challenging experience, they are fighting through with grace.“STEM teachers aren’t afraid of challenges,” she says. “We step up to them. It is in our nature.”

Along with Street and Garcia, fourth grade New Rochelle teacher, Johanna Vasquez, is honored to have taken part in Gunning’s video project.

“It was a great experience to show a snapshot of what genuine, authentic learning looks like. Being part of the video and seeing the discussion board confirmed to me the common goal in STEM education all around the world,” said Vasquez.

Due to the pandemic, around the time that the video was being made, businesses and institutions were just starting to close. Only two days after filming in Street’s classroom at Palisade Preparatory School in Yonkers, the school was completely shut down.

“I’d like to think that the stars were aligned to still make the video possible,” she added.

STEM Fellows have a certain fire in them to make a difference, regardless of the obstacles that sometimes make their jobs seem impossible. Gunning and her fellows continue to celebrate the success of this project, while their motivation to power forward with flying colors to the next one is ever-so-evident.

As Street puts it: “Nothing can get in the way of the greatness of STEM!”

Click to watch:
“Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows in the Greater New York City Area”