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COTC Adjunct Instructor Named STEM Exemplar

NEWARK, Ohio, February 2, 2016 – An adjunct instructor at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) has been named a Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) Exemplar by The Ohio Academy of Science (OAS) Believe in Ohio program. Biology Instructor Casey Tucker of Utica was one of 81 Ohioans honored this year.

The STEM Exemplar initiative honors Ohioans who embody believing in Ohio from a STEM workforce perspective. Exemplars are graduates of Ohio high schools, have attended higher education in Ohio or elsewhere and are now gainfully employed in or retired from a STEM field in Ohio. Exemplars serve as role models for students to encourage them to pursue STEM careers and become entrepreneurs and innovators.

Photo Above: Tucker holding the fossilized skull of Dracorex Hogwartsia (a dinosaur named after the dragon in Harry Potter) at the Indianapolis Children's Museum​

"I'm really honored to have been identified as an Ohio STEM Exemplar," said Tucker. "I've been involved with learning and promoting science since I was a young kid. I even competed in the Ohio state science fair, sponsored by the Ohio Academy of Science when I was in the seventh and eighth grade. I presented an extinction theory for dinosaurs. It was an incredible learning opportunity."

Tucker teaches environmental science, and anatomy and physiology at COTC. He wants his students and people in the community to embrace STEM fields.

"There are a lot of different ways in which people can become more involved in STEM," said Tucker. "If they have kids, encourage children by taking them to science or natural history museums or to zoos and aquariums. Many of these institutions will offer free admission weekends. Support their interests with books, even ones that might seem above their reading level. Engage kids in activities like cooking or wood-working; where they can learn how to measure and make mathematical conversions. Parents could even just help their children to pay attention to issues in the news and try to learn more."

Tucker started teaching at COTC in autumn semester 2015. He said some students fear his courses or pursuing a STEM career because they don't understand what it is truly about.

"Science touches every aspect of our lives today; everything from our choices at the grocery store, to our healthcare decisions, to how we seek entertainment, to our choices for leaders of our government. I want to help people make informed decisions that improve our quality of life and leave the planet better for future generations," said Tucker. "I think STEM gets a bad rap in popular media. In movies and TV shows, STEM is portrayed as difficult and complicated. STEM practitioners are either portrayed as socially awkward and outcasts (e.g., "The Big Bang Theory"), or as malevolent evil-doers (e.g., a lot of bad guys in sci-fi movies). If more people realized how much STEM affects us every day we might have a different perspective. Without STEM we wouldn't have cell phones, tablets, MP3 players, Blu-Ray, medicines that prolong our lives and the lives of those we love, or more fuel-efficient vehicles."

OAS is a membership based, volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization. OAS fosters curiosity, discovery and innovation and works to unite all who value education, science, engineering, technology, or their applications for the benefit of society.

Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential.  COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.