Blaine teacher selected as ‘Super Scientist’

Calla Athman has been named a “Fox 9 Super Scientist.” The Blaine High School (BHS) teacher was nominated for teaching an engineering class for the Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science (CEMS).

Blaine High School teacher Calla Athman has been named a “Fox 9 Super Scientist.”
Blaine High School teacher Calla Athman has been named a “Fox 9 Super Scientist.”

Athman was invited to give a demonstration at the Science Museum of Minnesota Oct. 13. She also received a year membership to the Science Museum and $900 for her classroom and will be featured in the future on Fox 9.

Dr. Lori Dykstra, the CEMS coordinator and a 2011 Fox 9 Super Scientist, nominated Athman. In her nomination, Dykstra said that Athman uses her strong foundation in math and physics to challenge and inspire young people.

“Calla possesses outstanding instructional ability and engages her students in practical, hands-on activities,” Dykstra said. “She is an effective team player and contributes meaningful ideas while working with her collaborative team.”

Dykstra said that when CEMS was searching for an additional teacher for the engineering classes, it was obvious that Athman was the right person.

“The combination of her skills in both math and physics equipped her to be the perfect choice for digital electronics,” Dykstra said. “Her passion for both subject areas combined with her relationship skills with young people cause her to be a dynamic, energetic teacher.

“Calla provides encouraging guidance and creates an atmosphere in which failure only represents another opportunity to learn.”

Originally from Wyoming, Athman moved to Minnesota to attend school and play hockey at Augsburg College. In her sixth year at BHS, in addition to teaching the CEMS honors digital electronics class, Athman teaches geometry.

Athman had been the coach of the girls’ junior varsity hockey team, but stepped down this year because she is working on her graduate degree through St. Mary’s University.

Athman didn’t know she had been nominated to be a Fox 9 Super Scientist and was very surprised to learn she had been selected.

“I was really excited,” Athman said. “I was like wow, how did this happen?”

At the Science Museum, Athman and two of her CEMS students demonstrated boe-bots (robots) they built. The boe-bots are programmed to go through a maze. One boe-bot uses whisker sensors and the second uses infrared sensors to navigate the walls.

Athman went into teaching because she loves math and physics and wanted to communicate that with young people. She enjoys the relationships she is able to build with staff and students and appreciates the CEMS program.

“CEMS offers classes that aren’t offered elsewhere; students and teachers get to do something that is not common throughout the state,” Athman said. “CEMS allows students who think they might be interested in engineering to explore engineering and decide for themselves if that’s what they want to do. It also allows students to earn college credit and get an early start at college.

“CEMS is a great opportunity for both students and teachers. Digital electronics is one of my favorite classes; I love it. It’s something different every day.”

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