STEM Teacher Externship: Nathan Maiers, Barilla
This year is the 10-year anniversary of the STEM Teacher Externship program. Nathan Maiers of Boone High School is one of 80 externs placed at workplaces across Iowa. The STEM Hub had an opportunity to visit Mr. Maiers at Barilla and ask him some questions about the Externship experience:
What was your position or role at Barilla and what project(s) did you work on?
The department that I was a part of was the Quality Assurance team. My main role was to work on some of their excel documents and automate them so they update with as little manual entry as possible. One of my favorite projects I worked on was a Palletizer Reporting Summary that gave the different amounts and cuts of pasta for each of their 8 processing lines. It took a lot of research to find the correct formulas to write and make it work, but it was a fun challenge.
What skills did you utilize in your position? What new skills did you learn?
A lot of math skills were used not necessarily to calculate numbers, but to write functions so that the worksheet did what it was asked to do. Some new things I learned from having to research were different functions in Excel and more formatting shortcuts to make the document easy to read.
What did you learn that you can take back to the classroom?
I will be taking all my new found Excel expertise into the classroom to aid in teaching students about money management. Excel will provide a very good way of making the computer do the calculations while the students can make sense of what the numbers mean.
How will you be able to improve students' educational experience after being a STEM Extern?
After having my STEM Externship experience, I know I will be more comfortable pushing technology onto students for budgeting projects, loan information and analysis, and delivering data. My students should leave my classroom with an above average understanding of how and when to use spreadsheet data.
Did you have any "aha" moments during the Externship?
One “aha” moment I had was actually in a discussion with another extern on our discussion boards. He was also working with spreadsheets and mentioned treating a cell as a variable and maybe teaching solving equations using that idea. I do not know if it is something I will implement in my classroom, but it was something I never thought about before and I found it very interesting.