Director of Bioscience Education and Outreach, TU Center for STEM Excellence
At Towson University’s SciTech Student Learning Lab, Mary Stapleton is inspiring the next generation of bioscientists. From building rain gardens to conducting animal forensics, middle and high schoolers throughout Maryland are learning science by doing science at the lab.
“It’s unusual to see a university support this kind of outreach,” Stapleton notes. “TU provides us with a solid foundation that enables us to focus on our mission of strengthening science education. These types of partnerships with K-12 education systems are critical to help prepare students for higher education.”
Stapleton, who began her career as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger and studied bird genetics as a molecular ecologist, has translated her passion to a student-centered career.
“I love the path I have chosen at Towson University as an informal science educator,” says Stapleton, who is president-elect of the Maryland Association of Science Teachers (MAST).“I constantly interact with K-12 science teachers, and I am always looking for novel ways to develop the science programs they need.”
Each week during the school year, Stapleton and her staff provide up to five high school and middle school classes with hands-on lab experiences at the Learning Lab. In addition, she oversees the Maryland Loaner Lab, which loans lab equipment to schools and develops, assembles and maintains different self-contained laboratory experiments that teachers can use in their own classrooms.
“All of our work is aligned with the Maryland State Department of Education’s Core Learning Goals and the just-adopted Next-Generation Science Standards,” she notes. “Our activities reflect the very latest ways of teaching and learning science.”