Vera Vander KooyExecutive Director
Vera Vander Kooy is the founder and executive director of The STEM Connection. She is a highly regarded STEM educator and naturalist who has facilitated hands-on standards based STEM learning experiences in elementary and middle school settings for over 15 years. To complement her inherent love of the sciences, Vera studied science education at Calvin College and differentiated programming at Grand Valley State University. She has taught 5th grade, middle school science and served as a K-8 science lab facilitator. In 2017 she received the Joe Wright Recognition of Excellence Award by the Environmental Educators Association of Indiana and along with entire STEM Connection team the Hoosier Chapter Soil And Water Conservation Society’s Education and Communications award. Currently, Vera presents, consults and trains others empowering them to provide positive STEM learning experiences.
Angela FitzgeraldProgram Director
Andrea ElstroField Trips & Homeschool Club Facilitator
Andrea Elstro joined The STEM Connection in the fall of 2017. She is a facilitator for field trips and the homeschool club. She graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with a master’s degree in analytical chemistry. She has previously worked as an environmental chemist at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, a technical scientist at PTS Diagnostics, and an online instructor teaching environmental science for associate level degrees. She is enjoying teaching children about the field she is passionate about.
Ana ClayField Trip Facilitator
Madeline Anderson is a high school intern at The STEM Connection. She has been a part of the STEM family since November 2016. She is a senior at Shortridge High School, working on her International Baccalaureate Diploma. Some of the activities Madeline does include: regularly volunteering at Saint Monica Catholic School, a junior board member at The Joseph Maley Foundation, President of her school’s student government and helping coach a special needs baseball team. After high school Madeline plans on becoming a lawyer and focusing on equal rights in education as well as working with children.
Stacie HernandezSummer Camp & STEM@Night Program Director
Eileen WoddaProgram Coordinator
EIleen Wodda is the Program Coordinator for The STEM Connection. She joined The STEM Connection as a STEM educator last year. She also manages communications, registrations, and newsletters. Eileen is a teacher at St. Monica Catholic School and has been in the classroom helping students explore and grow for the last 24 years. Eileen is originally from Chicago, but has been living in Indianapolis for the last 20 years. She graduated from St. Joseph College with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish.
Amy AltmanField Trip Facilitator
Caroline Sperry recently joined the STEM Connection as a facilitator. She teaches Chemistry, Ecology, and Integrated Chemistry and Physics at Cardinal Ritter High School. Caroline earned a B.S. in Chemistry at Illinois State University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in Organometallic Chemistry. She has two children, one of whom is serving as an Intern at the STEM Connection this summer. Caroline hopes to encourage children to become lifelong-learners and to always be curious and concerned stewards of the world.
Board of Directors
Shawnta S. Barnes
9th/10th Grade English Teacher, Indianapolis Public Schools Adjunct Instructor, IUPUI IU School of Education
John M. Beals
Distinguished Research Fellow, Eli Lilly & Company
President, Fetch Multimedia
Senior Counsel, Nielsen IP Law, LLC
Director, Children’s Circle Preschool
Curt Vander Meer
CEO, Endangered Species Chocolate
Quality Control and Data Collection
The DoS – Dimensions of Success – tool is used to guarantee quality curriculum and programming. DoS defines twelve indicators of STEM program quality in out-of-school time and it was developed and studied with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) by the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency (PEAR), along with partners at Educational Testing Services (ETS) and Project Liftoff. Also, pre and post assessments are administered and program surveys are sent to participants to allow us to collect data and share the good work we do.