Building Career Connections through Game-Based Learning: Jennifer McManis
Jennifer McManisAKA "Lady Galaxy STEMDUST"
STEM Coordinator – School District of Manatee County, FL
In Manatee County, STEM is viewed as key to student success. The county’s focus on STEM is highlighted by the school district’s efforts on preparing students for STEM-related careers. Manatee County’s STEM initiatives are designed to progress students from elementary school to middle school to high school and beyond, allowing students to shine in STEM-oriented competitions at every level. The latest example is students from Willis Elementary, who were selected as runner-up winners for the Dell Technologies Advancing Sustainability Game Design Challenge. In this competition, they competed with over 1,000 students internationally!
Behind the scenes of this work, you will find an energetic STEM Coordinator, who has always had a passion for STEM learning: Jennifer McManis, AKA Lady Galaxy STEMDUST. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Biology and a love for science, Lady Galaxy STEMDUST became interested in continuing to explore her passions through education. Loving the fast-paced school environment, which provided many exciting and unique challenges, she thrived in the classroom while engaging her students with a variety of science experiments and hands-on learning opportunities. Eventually, her path guided her to leadership, where she is able to engage with like-minded educators. Sharing common STEM goals with her community sustains her excitement about education and learning.
Bringing Legends of Learning to teachers was the perfect way to ignite the same passion for STEM in both students and educators alike. Legends is now a valued addition to the curriculum in all elementary and K-8 schools in Manatee, as part of an innovative and engaging STEM program. The focus is on keeping students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. Lady Galaxy STEMDUST shared that she pursued a partnership with Legends because “we wanted to give our students and teachers another valuable, engaging, and fun STEM resource, especially when considering that gaming can increase interest and engagement among students, thereby increasing learning gains.”
Lady Galaxy STEMDUST already sees the excitement among the STEM educators! Teachers have shared that they see students immersed in science and math concepts in the classroom, learning while playing. They use Legends “as an exciting and creative way to teach students the content.” The most exciting aspect is that students are motivated to take ownership of their learning and will be able to apply their skills in STEM fields.