Museum Honors Warner Professor and East Teacher with Leadership Awards in STEM Education


The Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC) honored April Luehmann, an associate professor and director of the science teacher education program at the Warner School of Education, and Paul Conrow, a precision optics teacher at East Upper School, for making a difference and teaching the community about the important opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Luehmann was presented with the Leadership Award at the university level and Conrow was presented with the Leadership Award at the secondary level.
The RMSC recognized Luehmann and Conrow, along with other local educators and organizations, at a new event, the RMSC STEM Awards ceremony, that took place on March 9, 2016 at the Strathallan Hotel in Rochester. The Leadership Awards in STEM Education, presented at the elementary, secondary, and university educational levels, recognize innovative teaching in STEM education. Educators, who must have been teaching for at least three years, were recognized for innovation in inspiring students to understand, appreciate, and apply STEM fields.
April Luehmann photoAs a faculty member and researcher, Luehmann has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to transform the way K-12 students learn science and incorporate it into their everyday lives through hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. Together with her graduate students at Warner, Luehmann has worked directly with hundreds of children from the Rochester City School District (RCSD), engaging them in science-based activities, programs, and courses that have allowed them to demonstrate an increased interest in science, better self esteem, and confidence in their ability to pursue science courses in high school and science-related careers.
Most notably, she started and continues to oversee two successful programs for RCSD students that serve as important components of Warner’s innovative 15-month science teacher education program, called Get Real! Science, that merges learning to teach in out-of-school settings as a complement to and scaffold for learning to teach in high-stakes school settings. The first program, Get Real! Science Camp, is a weeklong summer program that introduces middle school students to science in an informal setting where they form questions/hypotheses and collect samples from Lake Ontario to study water quality and make recommendations to the community. The second program, Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic & Relevant Science), is an afterschool program at East Upper & Lower Schools that offers students the opportunity to engage in meaningful and authentic science investigations of their choice. She has also played a supportive role in shaping the science curriculum and activities for the University’s EPO partnership with East.
Paul ConrowConrow has taught science at East since 2001. He began as a physics and chemistry teacher who serendipitously became connected to Rochester’s precision optics industry several years ago. In October 2008, Conrow identified that one of his 7th grade students needed, but did not have, prescription glasses. The student ended up getting glasses after a few months; this was far too long of a wait for Conrow. He was inspired to propose a program where high school students would make prescription glasses for RCSD students. As Conrow pursued this idea, he was introduced to Tom Battley, executive director of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, a local organization that represents precision optics manufacturing companies. (Precision optics are those found in telescopes, mirrors, and cameras, etc.). Precision optics is a $3 billion a year industry for the Greater Rochester Area that employs more than 3,000 local technicians, engineers, and scientists. When Conrow learned that precision optics has such a huge local impact, he shifted his teaching focus to prepare students for careers in this thriving industry. With the annual support of a NYSED STEM grant, he has created a precision optics program at East, where students fabricate precision lenses and mirrors. The lab is equipped with machinery, tools, and raw materials that are industry-standard.  Conrow’s goal has been to create a learning space in a high school where students practice in-demand STEM skills valued by local employers. The program’s genesis and sustainability relies on the support and advice of experts from local colleges and industry. The optics departments at Monroe Community College and the University of Rochester and a half dozen local optics companies are critical partners in this endeavor.
Vision Care is a second optics-focused program at East supported by the same NYSED STEM grant. Logan Newman, Conrow’s colleague and friend, created this program, which was inspired by Conrow’s experience with his 7th grader in 2008. Students from the Vision Care program have made over 500 pairs of glasses for RCSD students across grades K-12.
Read more about the RMSC STEM Awards and this year’s award recipients.
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
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Tags: April Luehmann, award, East, East Upper and Lower Schools, Paul Conrow, Rochester Museum and Science Center, STEM, STEM education