Kelsey Navis and former CBS dean Robert Elde in the BioLab at the Hill Country Science Mill. (Photo credit: Kevin Tully)
No day looks the same. From organizing week-long summer camps to designing interactive curriculum, Kelsey Navis is immersed in the day-to-day demands of a startup. But instead of helping build a budding technology company, she’s pushing the boundaries of STEM education.
Navis (B.S., Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, ’14) is the science education specialist at the Hill Country Science Mill, a new venture in Johnson City, Texas founded by biotechnology entrepreneur Bonnie Baskin and former CBS dean Robert Elde. After a stint as a middle-school science teacher with Teach for America in San Antonio, Navis embraced the opportunity to apply the learning-by-doing lessons absorbed as a College of Biological Sciences undergraduate.
“I was really drawn to the Science Mill’s mission of inspiring kids to see STEM as fun and relevant to their lives, and ultimately imagining themselves in STEM careers,” says Navis.
While an undergraduate, Navis was steeped in hands-on lessons in biology starting in Nature of Life and Foundations of Biology, the college’s signature course for biology majors in which students work in teams to solve real-world problems rather than listening passively to lectures. She and her peers in the college’s Dean’s Scholars programs worked with Dr. Sue Wick to meet with Twin Cities teachers to design inquiry-based, hands-on learning education experiences for third through fifth grade students.
“I could have never imagined I would use the skills and knowledge I gained in CBS in the way I do now, but I’m incredibly grateful for how well CBS prepared me for success in the future.”
Navis also spent a semester abroad in Olso, Norway where differences in the education system sparked her interest in becoming an educator.
“I studied abroad and realized how pivotal education is to having opportunities and how many of my friends said over and over that they wished that they could have gone to school in the United States,” says Navis. “That was something I had never thought about.”
Now Navis spends her days shaping the educational experience for students visiting the Science Mill.
“Our team at the Hill Country Science Mill truly believes that all kids need to be inspired to have an interest in STEM so that they can tackle a wide array of challenges our world faces now and in the future,” says Navis. “Sharing my nerdy love for science to encourage this is always fun and rewarding!”
- Lance Janssen