The STEM Formula

Showcasing STEM Education

STEM Formula is a video series that spotlights the successful alumni, knowledgeable faculty, hard-working students, and tight-knit community of the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), one of the nation's top public STEM schools.  Cohosts Michael Newsome and Nicole Kroeger interview guests and travel across South Carolina and beyond to showcase the people, programs, and activities of GSSM.  They interview the leaders of the prestigious academic institutions and corporations that partner with GSSM, talk to the directors of GSSM’s academic and outreach programs, highlight student research activities, and showcase GSSM's many successful alumni.  The focus is on providing the viewer with informed advice, examples, and ideas to help them bettern understand how GSSM is able to enrich the lives of its students and prepare them for success in life and career.

2023 Episodes



S1E12: 2023 NCSSS Student Research Conference at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Each summer, students from member schools of the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS) come together to share their research and learn from each other. This year’s conference was held at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora, Illinois. 
Students presented at poster sessions, attended informational meetings, engaged in hands-on technology experiences, and visited the University of Illinois Chicago campus. Chaperones also participated in professional development activities. Students came from several states including Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. 
The conference is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn, have fun, and network. Schools sending students help to build their own national reputation while advancing the cause of STEM education. Information about next summer’s Student Research Conference can be found on the NCSSS website.

S1E11: Salt Marsh Restoration Project Enhances Learning with Dr. Jennifer Brown

Students in Marine Biology and Botany courses at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics participate in From Seeds to Shoreline, a program managed by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, who partners with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Over the course of the academic year, GSSM students collect, cultivate and transplant Spartina alterniflora (smooth cord grass) to areas along the state’s coastline. In this video, we follow biology instructor Dr. Jennifer Brown and her students in and out of the classroom as they cultivate spartina on campus and plant it along the coastline near Huntington Beach State Park.  Dr. Jennifer Brown has been recognized as STEM Teacher of the Year by the South Carolina Academy of Sciences.


S1E10: Learning through Research and Inquiry with Dr. Josh Witten

The Research and Inquiry graduation requirement is a signature element of the curriculum at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. Students must complete either a 6-week mentored research project during the summer between their junior and senior years or a semester-long Research and Inquiry-designated course. GSSM’s Director of Research and Inquiry, Dr. Josh Witten, explains how the program works and why it is one of the reasons GSSM’s alumni do so well in college and in careers. In this episode you will hear from students who have completed their Research and Inquiry experiences. Dr. Gordon Brown, a chemistry instructor who mentors research students during the regular school year, provides some detail about his research course, as well.


S1E9.5: From STEM High School to College with USC Student Layne Scopano

Layne Scopano, 2019 GSSM graduate and University of South Carolina Biochemistry and Spanish major, recently returned from studying maternal and child health in the Amazon. She talks about how her GSSM-mentored research experience helped prepare her for success as an undergraduate research fellow.
GSSM's class of 2019 had special challenges as COVID hit in their freshman year of college. Scopano says that strong relationships helped to pull her through. Her background in athletics has helped her to keep perspective. 
She advises STEM students to realize questions in science take time and energy to answer. You don’t need to know everything right away...just keep working at it.  Layne plans to pursue a master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.


S1E9: People-Centered STEM with USC Engineering and Computing Dean Haj-Hariri

Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing, Hossein Haj-Hariri, discusses the importance of complementing STEM with the humanities, learning student’s names, and allowing young people to choose their own career paths. During Dean Haj-Hariri’s tenure, his college has grown its faculty, student body, diversity, contracts, and grant awards. 
In his 20 years of academic leadership, he has learned that listening to his team members, finding them the resources they need, and then getting out of the way produces champions who succeed. He says that STEM teachers should focus on the fundamentals, stress critical thinking, and teach students to teach themselves. In this way, we can prepare students for a rapidly changing future.


S1E8: Experiential Learning to Enhance STEM Instruction with Dr. Cara Roberts

GSSM biology instructor, Dr. Cara Roberts, discusses how she uses hands-on and real-world activities to teach environmental science and restoration ecology. Her approach to labs often involves getting outside for activities such as species counts, water and soil sample collections, and declining biodiversity cause identification. She also works closely with, and tours the facilities of, industry partners like Duke Energy and Sonoco Products Company to help students better understand nuclear power generation and recycling. In her courses, she emphasizes the importance of studying science in order to better understand the human impact on the environment, and she underscores how every environmental solution has a tradeoff. Dr. Roberts advises STEM teachers to keep a sense of humor in the classroom and help students see the science all around them in the real world.


S1E7: Developing Critical Reasoning Skills with Math Instructor Taylor Belcher

GSSM math instructor, Taylor Belcher, discusses how he uses seemingly-non-math-related questions to inspire students to think carefully about the world and solve problems. Taylor wants students to understand how to turn difficult problems into problems they already know how to solve.  He has extensive experience teaching online and in-person and talks about how important it is for teachers to keep listening and adjusting because every teaching situation is unique.


S1E6: Inquiry Through Art with Practicing Artist Alyssa Reiser Prince

GSSM Art Instructor, Alyssa Reiser Prince, MFA, discusses her inquiry-based approach to art. Through thoughtful experimentation and by considering the intersection of art and other disciplines, students learn to develop ideas, follow processes, and be comfortable with failure on the road to success.


S1E5: Teaching Physics through Art and Sports with Dr. Kristin Walker

GSSM physics instructor, Dr. Kristin Walker discusses how to motivate student interest and increase student understanding in physics using real world examples. In her courses like Physics in the Arts and Physics in Sports, Dr. Walker is able to show how theory can explain everyday activities. She also talks about the importance of relating physics to other disciplines.


S1E4: STEM High School Design Trends and Career Path Advice from Architect Alex Lay

Alex Lay, 2003 GSSM graduate and architect at McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture provides insight into the changing design needs of modern STEM high schools. He tells us about his personal career path that brought his STEM background together with his interest in art, leading to a career that is both fun and meaningful.


S1E3.5: Tips for College by Clemson University Student Gracie Dellinger

2020 GSSM graduate and Clemson University Honors College student, Gracie Dellinger talks about what helped her prepare for college and a future of studying infectious disease and parasitology. She gives advice about how to navigate the transition from high school to college.


S1E3: STEM Education with Clemson University College of Science Dean Cynthia Young

Founding Dean of the Clemson University College of Science, Cynthia Young, talks about her university’s mission, its many innovative programs, and where it is headed in the future. Dean Young tells us what she has learned about teaching, and she provides advice on STEM leadership. She also gives advice to high school students planning to study in the STEM disciplines.


S1E2: Teaching Neuroscience and Microbiology with Dr. Bhuvana Parameswaran

GSSM Biology instructor, Dr. Bhuvana Parameswaran shares experiences and advice from her successful career teaching neurobiology and other courses to advanced STEM students. Dr. Parameswaran discusses her approach to classes and labs and stresses the importance of writing in the classroom.

S1E1: STEM Leadership Excellence with GSSM President Danny Dorsel

GSSM President Danny Dorsel provides advice for aspiring STEM leaders. In this episode, President Dorsel discusses what’s new in secondary STEM Education and where it might be headed.