COVID Silver-Lining? Interesting Guest Speakers at EGHS

by | Jan 29, 2021

And EGHS’s Nicholas Rath is looking for more guest speakers – maybe you?

Students may have lost out on a bunch of opportunities this school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but teacher Nicholas Rath has used the opportunity to add one: having a variety of guest speakers who can join from their home office in EG or just about anywhere. 

“I was concerned that this year we would be in this sorta vacuum, where we wouldn’t have a free movement of people coming and going in terms of guest speakers into the building. So I thought about what we can do to change things up and make sure the kids are feeling connected with the outside of the classroom or their homes,” Rath explained.

In the fall, Megan Ranney, emergency doctor and researcher (who’s now a frequent contributor on CNN) and Howard Silversmith, the school district’s pediatrician, joined Rath’s Current Issues in Science class to discuss the virus with students. Rath got Kevin Ginestet, a cybersecurity executive, and James Le Blanc, a materials scientist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, to talk with his Computer and Information Systems (CIS) class. Nicole Lengyle Costa, Rhode Island DEM fisheries biologist, also visited the AP environmental class. 

Senior Grace Patti, who is in CIS, said, “I have enjoyed the varieties of guest speakers that Mr. Rath has given the class opportunities to connect and discuss with because each class is focused on a different and unique topic. We talked about endangered species, aspects of how sleep works, and how technology influences our lives. I think this class structure is exciting during a challenging year of learning and has certainly been a little bit of light added to my day.”

In Current Issues in Science, students suggest events and topics they are interested in, thus they end up covering a broad range of material, with a curriculum that will change even between this semester and the next. 

“The class was created literally the day before school started as a last-minute way to try to tackle the scheduling issues we have,” said Rath, “I end up covering 2 or 3 big topics, so obviously the vaccine and climate change, but then I ask the students what they see as current issues in science. From that list generated by students, I tap into the guest speaker list.”

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Kian Bijari, a junior currently taking AP Environmental and soon Current Issues in Science, “In particular I would love to see a chemist or aeronautical engineer. I like the opportunity to speak with people in fields that I’m interested in and can’t wait for more speakers.” 

With guest speakers proving to be a powerful tool to teach students and help them explore career paths, Rath wants to expand this opportunity beyond his own classes. Although it is currently in the works, Rath hopes on creating a STEM career week in March where students learn more about jobs in scientific fields and can ask the speakers their own questions. This will hopefully provide students with something to look forward to this year and find new passions or possibilities for their future careers. 

To help with that effort, Rath is asking interested community members to sign up for a guest speaker slot by filling out this google form: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeRqKzKSAsFY32FpsGJwCMa5YV9OOGsa8IUGIF-SW8lvNSDPw/viewform?gxids=7628 

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