Two Local Educators Recognized By National Group As Teacher Mentors

Margarette Marturano

The Society for Science & the Public recently provided funding, training, materials and research equipment to make quality STEM learning and instruction easier and possible in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns.

The society is excited to announce this year’s advocates, 66 leading STEM educators from middle and high schools, as well as universities, museums and nonprofits across the country, who demonstrate a profound commitment to students of different races and ethnicities in STEM and students from low-income households.

Among these educators is Margarette Marturano of Seminole Ridge High School and Meghan Hess Shamdasani of SouthTech Academy in Boynton Beach.

“I am so excited to be a part of the Advocate Program, and I look forward to working with educators from all over the United States,” Marturano said. “This experience will allow me to expand the opportunities for my students to participate in guided and independent research, and help me to instill a love of science in my students through hands-on exploration.”

Shamdasani is excited to begin her second year with the Advocate Program. As she begins her 10th year of teaching high school science, she is prepared to expand student research opportunities at her school. Before teaching high school, she worked as a teaching assistant in anthropology and studied non-human primates. “My work as an advocate means that I have the opportunity to share my love of science with students while introducing them to fantastic opportunities that prepare them for post-secondary success,” Shamdasani said.

Each named educator will guide a cohort of three or more students to enter their research projects into science research competitions. In its sixth year, even amid a deadly pandemic, the Advocate Program sustains the momentum to work with and inspire the next generation of our nation’s scientists and engineers.

“At this unprecedented time, it is essential we adapt swiftly and give students planned and effective pathways to access STEM mentors and research opportunities, despite an inability for many schools to remain open in person,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “While research labs and facilities may be closed, the society’s Advocate Program will help ensure that students who are traditionally underserved in STEM have mentors year-round who will work with them and push them to stay on top of their STEM education, conduct research at home and have the opportunity to enter science research competitions.”

In order to meet the exceptional demands and overcome the limitations of this unusual school year, the society has incorporated a new element to the Advocate Program, devoting $132,000 (an additional $2,000 per advocate) to support students who are conducting research at home or in the classroom.

To date, more than 2,000 students have participated in the Advocate Program, of which, 1,498 students have successfully competed in at least one science research competition. Moreover, since the program’s 2015 launch, students of advocates are responsible for more than 4,000 unique competition entries, with many students entering more than one competition each year. Ninety percent of those students are from low-income households and 70 percent are of a race or ethnicity underrepresented in STEM. The Advocate Grant Program is funded by Arconic Foundation, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and Regeneron.

Advocates will also participate in a virtual Advocate Training Institute where they will learn best practices for supporting students in entering STEM research competitions and discuss strategies specific to COVID-19, meet and learn from each other and obtain training from society staff.

Learn more about the program at