News Release
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2015

Kaitlin Felsted, Marketing Communications Specialist
STEM Action Center

Recipients of the STEM Innovation Awards Announced
Five individuals to be recognized for their contributions to STEM education

SALT LAKE CITY – The STEM Action Center will hold their first STEM Innovation Awards in partnership with Utah Technology Council at their annual Utah Innovation Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

The STEM Innovation Awards are an opportunity to recognize a student, teacher, counselor, principal and mentor in Utah who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Nominations were open to the general public from February to March of this year. The STEM Action Center team and the STEM Action Center Board, through a rigorous process, chose this year’s honorees.

• Student: Taylor Boardman, Senior at Delta High School
• Teacher: John Teuscher, Career and Technical Education teacher at Ogden Preparatory Academy
• Principal: Canda Mortensen, Assistant Principal at Freedom Elementary
• Mentor: Lorie Millward, Curator of Curiosity and Inquiry, and Director of Education at Thanksgiving Point Institute
• Counselor: Mindy Nelson, School Counselor at NUAMES (Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science)

Dr. Tamara Goetz, executive director of the Utah STEM Action Center, along with Richard Nelson, president and CEO of Utah Technology Council will present the award.
“This is an opportunity to acknowledge and pay tribute to those that are giving students opportunities inside and outside of the classroom to engage more fully with STEM,” said Dr. Goetz. “The STEM Action Center STEM Innovation awards are unique. They recognize that it takes ‘a village’ to achieve success. These awards recognize the commitment and contributions from all of those that play a critical role in the success of STEM education in Utah.”

The teacher, counselor, principal and mentor will be recognized and will receive a trophy and $2,000 to grow STEM in Utah, while the student will receive a trophy and a Mini iPad.

Note: See below for recipient information.


About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Governor Gary Herbert’s commitment to economic development statewide. Utah’s economic development vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination. The mandate for this office is to provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state. GOED accomplishes this mission through the administration of programs that are based around targeted industries or “economic clusters” that demonstrate the best potential for development. GOED utilizes state resources and private sector contracts to fulfill its mission. For more information please contact: Michael Sullivan, 801-538-8811 or

About the STEM Action Center
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Action Center works to develop Utah’s workforce of the future by prioritizing STEM education. The program drives research and implementation of STEM education best practices across Utah by coordinating STEM-related activities, creating and coordinating proven STEM education best practices, facilitating educator access to those tools, align public STEM education and higher STEM education activities.

Principal: Canda Mortensen

Canda 2013 pic
Through her work as a Curriculum Director for Alpine School District and as an Assistant Principal at Freedom Elementary, Canda Mortensen works toward furthering STEM achievement for students by procuring devices and supporting teacher training.
She initiated the distribution of more than 2000 Kindles and iPads for use in K-3 classes, then organized the purchase of online libraries for students to have access to thousands of books. She also purchased online materials teachers can use to enhance classroom instruction and increase student engagement.
Canda designed TechU, a website with 100 free lessons that teachers can access day and night, to learn the skills they need to feel confident in expanding their use of technology.
She has served on a district technology committee for administrators who created a workshop series for other principals. Mrs. Mortensen chairs a technology committee at Freedom Elementary that is creating a vision for a world-class techie-elementary school. The teachers on the committee research educational technology practices, then design and implement lessons that include students learning to use PowerPoint, electronic publishing, engineering, coding and robotics, even for the youngest learners in kindergarten.
A guiding principle for her is “Children expect school to match their world and their world is greatly impacted by technology. Their competence with technology in some ways determines their success in the world. Let’s help children succeed.”

Mentor: Lorie White Millward

Lorie Millward pic
Lorie White Millward is Curator of Curiosity and Inquiry and the Director of Education at Thanksgiving Point Institute. She has been actively involved in informal Science Education and STEM initiatives for more than 25 years and is passionate about helping people explore, discover, and build understandings about the world around them.
Lorie’s extensive STEM experience includes the development of diverse programs and initiatives at the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, and as a consultant for informal learning organizations across the nation.
In 2012 she joined Thanksgiving Point Institute as part of the core team responsible for overseeing the construction, design, exhibitions and programming at all Thanksgiving Point venues including Farm Country, the Museum of Ancient Life, the Gardens, and the Museum of Natural Curiosity. She works to ensure that the programs she develops and administers embody transformative family learning and encourage authentic experiences in science, engineering, technology, and math.
She currently serves as Vice President of the Utah Museums Association Board of Trustees, on the Programming Committee for the Western Museums Association, and as a member of a multi-university field research team studying small mammal communities in the West.

Student: Taylor James Boardman

Taylor 02
My full name is Taylor James Boardman. I live in Oak City Utah and attend Delta High school. I was born with congenital muscular dystrophy, but my disabilities have helped push me to do well academically. My family has always been big into technology, and I’ve followed in our family’s trends such as building robots, writing programs and tinkering with electronics.
My STEM success started in middle school when I started participating in the SUU Science and Engineering Fairs. Since seventh grade I’ve participated in the science fair every year, and I’ve placed first every year while winning a numerous amount of other awards offered at the fair. When competing at the fair a few months ago for my final time, I had a reserved seat in front because I was winning so many awards. When students compete in the high school division, they can be selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. I’ve been selected three times to compete Internationally, and my biggest honor was winning fourth place at the International Fair. The Intel International fair has over 1,700 top students from around the world competing for awards.
I’ve written several programs and I’ve sold a few. I can code in C, C++, Python and HTML. This past year I was the science sterling scholar and was a runner-up. A project I did as a part of that was designing 3D printing car cell-phone holders to help promote our school’s Don’t Drive Stupid program. I’ve volunteered at our summer school, and did many science and robotics demonstrations there. I’m also an active member or our local 4-H and have taught a number of robotics courses using the LEGO NXT robotics kits.
The robots that I create personally are a bit more advanced than LEGOs. I design and 3D print them from my own 3D printer at home. I’ll then wire them up, write the software and use the popular Arduino microcontroller to run them.
I’m glad that there is a push for the STEM programs. It is amazing how much they interconnect. A lot of my accomplishments appear to have been in engineering and technology, but physical science and mathematics are essential to what I do. A lot of my programs are using trigonometry and calculus functions to run. I also appreciate other non-related STEM activities; I enjoy painting and playing the piano to pass the time.
This summer I will be attending BYU and then serving a two-year LDS mission. Currently I intend to major in computer engineering, and hope to one day be able to get a patent for one of the science projects I did.

John Teuscher, Teacher

John Teuscher is a CTE teacher at Ogden Preparatory Academy. A graduate of Brigham Young University in Technology Teacher Education, Mr. Teuscher has taught at OPA for the last 9 years. During that time he has taught CTE Introduction, Robotics, Computer Technology, and Exploring Technology and has also been the mentor for FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, Science Olympiad and Utah Underwater Robotics.
Mr. Teuscher teaches the entire CTE Introduction curriculum to the 7th grade students at OPA. This curriculum includes Agriculture, Business, Economics, Family and Consumer Science, Health Science, Information Technology, and Technology and Engineering. He has had to learn alongside his students many skills such as sewing, cooking, woodworking, electronics, programming and a variety of other skills and techniques that are usually taught by 3 or more teachers in most schools in the state. Learning new skills and how to use a variety of tools has become a hobby, and he is always looking for more to learn.
Ogden Preparatory Academy is a small charter school in the heart of Ogden and offers many challenges and also many advantages to the local schools. Due to the small size in student population and physical space, Mr. Teuscher does not have a dedicated kitchen or woodshop or sewing room. Instead, he has set his room up in way where students can be working with a variety of tools at the same time. Walk inside his room and you will find a small kitchen, woodworking tools, robotics parts and pieces, a few sewing machines, a computer lab, and a variety of tools and supplies to be creative and to solve problems.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics can be found in almost every project in Mr. Teuscher’s classroom. For example, sewing is combined with simple electronics to create electronic textiles. The science of how electricity and circuits work is explored. Today’s technology is used to create innovative projects. The engineering process is experienced in a whole new way. Mathematics is required to understand the programming needed to make ideas a reality. The result is a Light Show where students can show off their hard work and innovative ideas to their friends, family, and the community.

Mindy Nelson, Teacher

Mindy Nelson
With more than 15 years of youth development experience ranging from social work to her current position as Head School Counselor at NUAMES Early College High School, Mindy Nelson is passionate in her belief that education is the great equalizer in leveling the playing field for all youth, regardless of demographics.
Throughout her career she has been an advocate for STEM education. While working with Boys and Girls Clubs she oversaw the development of the Lego Robotics Lab, implementation of summer science clubs, and developed the science and technology curriculum implemented there. One aspect of her current job as a counselor that she feels passionate about is encouraging and assisting students, especially female and minority students to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. She is looking forward to her upcoming year as president of the Utah School Counselors Association where she can share her passion for STEM with other counselors.