Carrie Thomas ~ Catalyst for Engagement

Carrie Thomas

Growing STEM Enthusiasm

Dr. Thomas collaborates extensively with Science House, which serves as the K-12 outreach body for North Carolina State. COSEE SouthEast invited Science House to join its Board of Advisors because of its extensive experience working with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce initiatives. Science House works with students and teachers from across North Carolina, helping teachers improve their science teaching skills, and helping students get excited about STEM. It also works with university scientists to help them achieve their broader impact goals. In existence for almost 20 years, Science House now includes several satellite offices around the state and has a full-time staff of 13.

Science House was founded by NC State physics professor David Haase. The current director is Sharon Schulze. She and Carrie have collaborated on several proposals - GeoTeach and GK-12 among them. "We've become fast friends. We go to lunch and come up with ideas to work on together," says Sharon. "I'm a big believer in partnerships. I don't believe anyone can do it on their own."

Science House
In addition to Expanding Your Horizons, Carrie receives funding to use Science House for residential summer camps for kids interested in environmental science. "Kids come for two weeks and have a great time," says Carrie. "We take them to the coast and on a variety of field trips." Camp Enviro-Tech gives kids the goal of completing a science fair project in two weeks, and another camp exposes kids to STEM careers. Both camps involve arranging for kids to meet and interview working scientists.

Science House is adept at helping scientists with their broader impacts and outreach. "They have become the flagship outreach group in the state, possibly in the region," says Carrie, "because they have been able to maintain a lot of grant funding and they have a good working relationship with both the education system and the scientists at the university." Science House has begun to serve scientists in other areas of the university, such as the College of Agriculture & Engineering. "They choose to work with Science House because it's a good experience," says Carrie. "They know what to expect and they get what they're looking for."