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My So-Called STEM Life

Therese Workman

Therese Workman is TASC's Web Communications Manager.

“Are you ambidextrous?” “Do you wear a lab coat to work?” “Do you like seafood?”

Last week I was the Mystery Science Visitor meeting the 7th and 8th graders in the Hunter CASE / Good Shepherd Services after-school program at IS 206. And even though the students would be the ones solving the mystery, the trip felt like uncharted territory to me as I rode the 4 train to the Bronx with our program director, Rachel Chase. I’m about to stand in front of a classroom full of adolescents? Who are going to ask me questions about my STEM life?

By day I’m a web communications manager, pushing my computer(s) and other digital devices to help me spread the news about all things expanded learning. By night I’m a musician, using a blend of acoustic and electronic instruments and my computer to write, perform and record songs. And here I was, standing in front of these middle schoolers as we played the Mystery Science Visitor game, where the kids could ask me only yes-or-no questions in order to guess the nature of my STEM work. Mystery Science Guest game

It was almost too much fun, watching them become puzzled and then competitive as they asked if I were a software engineer (no), an artist (yes), did I use computers (yes),  if I worked with numbers (yes), if I liked swimming (yes). Hands shot up as they scribbled clues and came up with new questions.

“Do you work with dead things?” “Are you a magician?”

(I let this last question ring in the air, only because I loved it and briefly considered adding a third career.)

After a few lively rounds, I finally told the story of how I use technology in all parts of my life, and how my love for it came from my desire to create and express myself. Some of the students hinted at their own aspirations as singers or animators or scientists. I couldn’t help but sense their relief when they learned they might not have to give up certain passions to pursue others.

Hoping to drive home how STEM is incorporated into so many of the creative projects all around us, I showed the students my band’s music video, which uses lots of computer animation.  

One 8th grader, having just learned he’d been admitted to an auto-mechanics high school, stayed behind to ask me more. He’d been worried he’d have to give up his love for animation altogether. But maybe he wasn’t so worried anymore.

“Do you love your job?”


IS 206 Group Shot


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