February 26, 2014 | 11 a.m.
By Nicole Finsaas '13
Karee Smith received the Minnesota High Tech Association's STEM Education Scholarship.
Last semester, two Bethel students were honored with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) scholarships during the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) 2013 Tekne Awards ceremony. The Tekne Awards recognize companies, innovations, and people for technological breakthroughs that improve the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and all over the world.
Karee Smith ’14 never expected to receive an MHTA scholarship. In fact, only one other elementary education major in the history of the scholarship has earned it. But when Professor of Science Education Patricia Paulson encouraged her students to apply, Smith decided there was nothing to lose and sent in her application.
Smith was part of Bethel’s first STEM program with only four students—or pioneers, as they called themselves. It has now grown to an emphasis that education majors can add to their degree. The small class size allowed students to collaborate with professors to create a program that was not only interesting, but practical. “We often explored and researched using hands-on experiences, took field trips, and were able to create our own projects and class objectives,” says Smith. “[Professors] showed us the importance of keeping STEM subjects included in elementary school curriculum and how to tie the subjects together.”
Paulson acknowledged Smith’s passion for STEM in her letter of recommendation: “Karee is a model of what an elementary teacher should know and be able to do, and will truly make a difference for the children in her classroom. With her guidance, many children will be inspired to pursue STEM related fields.”
Tim Hendricksen ’15 is a computer science major who also won a STEM scholarship. Hendricksen was awarded his scholarship from BenchmarkQA, a Minneapolis-based software company. When he received the award, BenchmarkQA invited Hendricksen to an informal software-testing event. “It was fun to learn about some of the new tools for testing software,” he says. “After the event, I met some of the employees and learned a little more about the company.” Hendricksen was awarded the STEM scholarship for his pursuit of technology.