Granting an awesome education


When it comes to providing quality STEM education for students, few teachers are as dedicated as Jonathan Everett, Pitsco Education’s third-quarter scholarship winner of 2015.

Everett, who teaches eighth-grade Integrated Science and 11th-grade Physics at Greenwood Middle/High School in Millerstown, Pennsylvania, is on a mission to ensure students in his rural school district receive the same engaging, real-world learning afforded to students in more affluent areas.

“I strongly believe that students in rural areas have just as much right to quality STEM programs as the more well-funded school districts,” he says.
To make that happen, Everett spends much of his free time securing grants that enable him to share the excitement of experiencing hands-on science learning with his students.

“Over the past five years,” says Everett, “I have kept STEM-based programs afloat through more than 10 grant awards. . . . Throughout my 16-year teaching career, I have authored and [been] awarded 23 grants, for a total of $181,675.”

The ability to secure such grants has meant, among other things, more computers in the classroom; more lab equipment; the ability to fund student science competitions; and the acquisition of hands-on products such as mousetrap cars, rockets, and catapults, all of which translate into Everett’s dream of getting students excited about science.

“I love teaching science,” he says. “My mission as a teacher is to lead students on a journey in science in which they achieve more than they ever thought possible. . . . When students explore, test ideas, build performance devices, reengineer devices, or just mess around with equipment to see what it does, learning becomes exciting and real.”

Jonathan Everett, thank you for granting every student’s wish of an engaging learning environment. Congratulations on being named our third-quarter scholarship winner of 2015!

Pitsco is currently accepting nominations for the fourth-quarter 2015 Pitsco Scholarship at

Visit here to learn more about Jonathan Everett.

A STEMthusiast focused on math


For the remainder of 2015, Pitsco Education will be running a series of blogs showcasing the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). Four questions will be addressed for each TAG member in the blog series.

Lilly Jensby is a STEMthusiast who currently serves as a math instructional coach for a Title I elementary campus in Plano, Texas. She has worked with students in all grade levels, kindergarten through fifth, as well as with teachers as the campus New Teacher Mentor and the chair of the Technology Professional Learning Community (PLC). Her passion lies in the conviction that fostering creativity, critical thinking, and innovative practices helps prepare students for success.
To this end, Lilly has cofounded Gadget Girls, an engineering initiative raising interest in STEM disciplines particularly for girls in Grades 3-5. She has also transformed her room into a math learning lab – a space filled with math-focused STEM activities.

She is actively involved on her campus by contributing to the new Learning Commons, an after-school coding class, and technology workshops. One of her favorite endeavors has been developing and teaching STEMtastic Challenges, a district summer school course. In 2014, she was honored to present at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), and she was one of 50 educators selected nationally to attend NASA’s LiftOff Summer Institute.

Lilly was asked questions to address math as part of STEM in the classroom, and she shares her great advice below.

What is something unique about your classroom?

This year I transformed my room into a Math Learning Lab (or “ML2” as my students dubbed it). Kindergartners through fifth graders are invited to visit with a teacher in small groups or as a whole class. A variety of activities and challenges are set up for the students to explore and investigate. All have a math focus and generally go through a design cycle. One of my favorite activities is a package design challenge using Pitsco boxmakers. Students explore various sample packages, view videos of packaging engineers, create a package from a template, and design a package that meets a minimum criterion or works within specific constraints (such as efficiently holding a given product). Since I’m not a classroom teacher, I’m able to bring in groups and guide students through the learning phases. I've really enjoyed using the room in this way.

Provide a best tip for classroom management.

Establishing a classroom community through relationships is key to managing a classroom. Students who feel significant and part of a greater good are more likely to be contributors rather than distracters. When setting classroom expectations, we discuss things that help our class and things that hurt our class, and we use this as a benchmark for what happens in class. Sharing ideas, taking risks, and asking questions all help our class; however, calling out or interrupting steals other students’ opportunities for thinking or brain growth, and this hurts our class.

What is your best piece of advice for a new teacher?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and actively build a community of support. It reflects a willingness to learn from others and an openness to take risks. We’ve all been there, as a first-year teacher, and benefited from the help/advice of others. We would love a chance to pay it forward!

What do you hope to gain from being a member of TAG?

I am excited to learn from such an impressive group of educators and hope I can be a positive contributor to the conversation. I am especially looking forward to getting perspectives from different parts of the country and from both secondary and elementary levels.


Five popular products to begin the school year


Whether you go the regular summer break route or have your own break schedule for your homeschoolers, it’s always nice to have a list of popular products to use in the pursuit of knowledge. To help you along, here’s a list of five popular Pitsco products.

  1. 5PopularProducts2_0815The SunEzoon Solar Car is a great choice to teach students about solar energy. It’s an easy-to-build kit that works outdoors in full sunlight or indoors under a bright incandescent light. It’s perfect for going outside and learning.

  2. The Basic Mousetrap Vehicle demonstrates the surprising amount of force used in a mousetrap while being a total start-to-finish design activity. Students follow the design process and see direct applications of science and technology in order to design a fast car or a car that goes far.

  3. The T-Bot® II is a hydraulic-powered robot used to introduce students to 5PopularProducts4_0815basic hydraulic power and mechanics. It comes with a built-in activity involving stacking Ping-Pong balls and can be adapted to many other ideas in the areas of math, science, and engineering.

  4. The Pitsco Catapult is a medieval siege machine used to teach concepts like force and motion, vectors, trajectory, potential and kinetic energy, simple machines, and medieval history. It is also just huge amounts of fun to build a siege machine and learn about flinging objects.

  5. 5PopularProducts1_0815The BFF Balsa Foam Flyer is a simple foam glider combined with the power of a rubber motor-powered model airplane. Students can select one of four wing patterns to build the design or test the different wing designs to see which flies the best. It’s a quick build that allows students to learn some early concepts of aeronautics.

Each of these five products is a great way to teach STEM concepts and make sure students have fun while they learn. They don’t require a long build time and can teach multiple lessons. To learn more about these and other Pitsco products, visit

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