Audrelyn Watkins is a certified STEM teacher at Stone Mountain Elementary School in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
For as long as she can remember, she has always LOVED Mathematics! She says, “I love counting items, especially money, and solving Math brain teasers!” It was this real-world problem potential of Math, and by extension Science, that got her excited about STEM.
“In elementary school, I LOVED being in the 4H program!” she said. “Once a month, I would have a 4H sponsor come to my school and she would challenge us to solve various real-life problems such as which paper towel holds the most water or which storage container allowed food to stay fresh the longest. I would tell my mother about these challenges and we would work on them together as a family.”
It was these experiences that got Audrelyn thinking about Science as a career in elementary school. Originally, she wanted to be a doctor, and use her STEM skills to save lives. But after experiencing the deaths of several family members and being overcome with emotions, she felt perhaps she didn’t have the right temperament to work with the sick and dying on a daily basis. So in middle school, she began looking at careers in engineering, and became fascinated with creating technological solutions for everyday problems! Audrelyn was working toward being an engineer until she joined the staff at the SciTrek Science and Technology Museum, where she realized that she LOVED working with students! “It was so exciting to see their faces light up as they learned something new in the museum!” Audrelyn said, “It was then that I decided to become a Science teacher!”
Rather that repeating the more traditional in-school elementary Science lessons she had growing up, Audrelyn wanted her students to experience the engaging hands-on Science she had fallen in love with thanks to 4H, scouting, and the SciTrek museum.
As a teacher, Audrelyn encourages young women to pursue STEM fields by exposing them to past and current women in a range of Science careers, letting them know that failure is just a learning opportunity, and by helping them develop a growth mindset.
Audrelyn says, “I believe it is important to have women in STEM fields for the sake of both the women and the field. Having various perspectives from diverse populations helps create better and more creative solutions to problems; strengthens the talent pool; and increases creativity, productivity, and innovation.”