OV teacher gets unique look at Snohomish County
Last updated 7/31/2019 at Noon
While many of Chris Hazelbrook’s coworkers and students are spending their summer break either on vacation or are attempting to not think too much about the upcoming school year, Hazelbrook has spent a small portion learning more about STEM for the benefit of his students.
Hazelbrook, a science teacher at Olympic View Middle School, has spent parts of the last week with Snohomish County employees, learning about how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is incorporated into various County projects and day-to-day operations.
Hazelbrook is a member of the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS). Through WABS’s ACCESS STEM program, he and Nasim Badrbigi, a science teacher in the Edmonds School District, were able to spend time with Snohomish County employees seeing firsthand what kind of STEM jobs are available.
Per WABS, ACCESS STEM is a partnership between businesses and teachers to help bring engaging, work-based problems to classrooms.
“The overall goal of this partnership is to have more students be able to access post-secondary certification and move into the workforce,” WABS website said.
“This is to help to get students to see there are lots of paths in STEM,” Hazelbrook said. “Not every student needs to, or can go through, the four-year university path. And not all STEM jobs involve wearing a white lab coat and working in a lab.
“Really, most jobs require some sort of STEM skill.”
Hazelbrook noted some STEM paths could lead graduating high schoolers to two-year schools, vocational or trade programs, internships, or even the military.
“People still think with STEM that they need the four-year degree, or even more years in school, to get these jobs,” he said. “But some people can’t afford to go that route. There are lots of jobs out there, and that’s what we’ve been seeing here in the County.
“The idea is to help prepare kids for 21s tccentury jobs. The CEOs and people in the industry see a need for more workers with STEM skills and are trying to encourage all students to go into STEM.”
Hazelbrook said WABS is connected to many different CEOs and organizational leads, which led to he and Badrbigi touring parts of Snohomish County. Hazelbrook and Badrbigi will create a problem-based learning unit for their students, and others as it will be posted on the WABS website.
Hazelb rook got to tour various projects such as the first phase of the 35thAvenue Southeast project in Mill Creek, as well as estuary restoration on Smith Island.
Through the process, Hazelbrook has been with the County’s Planning and Development Services Department.
“We’ve seen wetlands, mitigation permit processes, traffic and road planning, and how long it takes for a project to begin and how long it takes to complete all the processes,” he said. “They have to use all sorts of problem-solving skills, and we’ll focus our project for the kids on that.”
One area Hazelbrook found fascinating was in regards to wetland restoration relating to salmon.
“We went out to the Port (of Everett) and the county; they have all these wetland restoration programs in part because there’s not enough salmon for the orcas, for the tribes, for fisherman. So we got to see how they’re trying to solve that.”
Hazelbrook also took interest in the technology the County is using to get work done faster and more efficiently.
“They have some really cool technology jobs that I didn’t know about already,” he said. “For example, we met an employee who was doing 3-D modeling of projects, and it looked like a video game. They were able to show things like shadows during different times of day and more layering. It’s not just drawing on a map.”
Snohomish County Communications Specialist Matt Phelps said partnerships like this are crucial for the future.
“Teaching students science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is critical to their future and the health of our local economy,” he said. “However, knowing how students will apply that knowledge in high-demand careers gives teachers invaluable tools in developing their lesson plans and educating students about career-connected issues.”