School of Education doctoral student to work with Canadian STEM ed program

John Howe

For School of Education doctoral student John Howe, bringing STEM education to all students is more than a goal—it’s a driving, personal mission.

“There was a lot bigger world out there than I knew about while growing up,” says Howe. “As a kid, to me, an engineer was the guy who drove the train through Merriman, Nebraska, 20 miles south of where I grew up.”

The STEM director at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Howe founded the STEM Institutes in 2008, a summer program designed to create opportunities for elementary and middle school students to explore STEM themes in a rigorous—and fun—setting. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in the School of Education’s Education Sciences specialization, and collaborates with Engineering Brightness at Preston Middle School.

Mission to Canada

Recently, Howe was awarded a Mission to Canada grant through the United States Embassy in Canada, a grant designed to promote U.S.-Canada bilateral relations through the creation and support of cooperative projects.

Focusing on expanding STEM education opportunities to underserved populations, Howe and advisor Andrea Weinberg, two public school teachers, and a media specialist will be working together with Canadian educators on a professional development program called Brainstem.

Founded at Riverview High School in New Brunswick, Canada, Brainstem is similar to the Stem Educator Symposium, which is hosted in Fort Collins by the STEM Institutes and Preston Middle School. Both are professional development programs for teachers wanting to create STEM opportunities for all students by developing meaningful, real-world solutions for problems affecting people.

“I’m most interested in why we have disparities in certain STEM disciplines.” says Howe. “Why are there so few female mechanical engineers or why so few African-American engineers? What can we do differently in K-12 to open doors of opportunity?”

Involvement locally, nationally, internationally

Along with colleagues Tracey Winey, a School of Education instructor, and Ian Fogarty, a science teacher at Riverview High School, Howe co-founded Engineering Brightness, a program to empower students, schools, and communities to design and produce sustainable lighting for families living off the grid in developing countries, including those in Uganda.

Locally and nationally, Howe works with the Team America Rocketry Challenge, First Lego League Robotics, the National Association of Rocketry and the Experimental Aircraft Association, and he presents on STEM topics to school districts and communities. He has co-presented at National Science Teachers Association’s regional and national conventions, at the International Society for Technology in Education national conference, and at the International Technology in Education and Development conference.

Bright future and big plans

Howe sees STEM as a problem-solving tool that can be used to create and open pathways for students everywhere.

“The biggest gift that the School of Education has given me is opportunity,” says Howe. “They’ve given me a great chance to be here and learn from some amazing people. I’m grateful to the leadership here for giving me this opportunity.”

Howe earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota, followed by a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Wyoming. After earning his Ph.D., Howe hopes to continue working on current and new projects related to STEM education.

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.