Interview with Diane Smogor, Executive Director
The Santa Fe Alliance for Science (SFAFS)
Our organization was co-founded in 2005 by Robert (“Bob”) Eisenstein, a nuclear and particle physicist, and Susan McIntosh, M.A, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Science Initiative, Founding Co-Director of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, and a classroom teacher with the Santa Fe Public Schools. Their shared vision was to improve STEM education in Santa Fe and boost the perception of science and mathematics within the community. The Alliance has one employee (a half-time Executive Director) and approximately 75 volunteer scientists and STEM experts who dedicate thousands of hours each year to deliver all of our programs at no charge to the schools they work with.
We inspire the inner scientist in Santa Fe youth by creating STEM learning opportunities through our network of volunteer scientists, engineers, and STEM professionals.
What does your company do/what industry do you represent?
For nearly 15 years, the Santa Fe Alliance for Science has brought scientists and STEM experts to schools to enhance STEM learning and discovery opportunities for Santa Fe students. Our volunteers partner with Santa Fe Public School teachers to engage students in real-world, interactive STEM activities. We work with students in grades K-12 but currently focus our programming in high-need elementary schools (K-8) where our volunteers can build student interest and confidence in STEM.
What makes your company or organization unique?
• Our ability to provide a direct connection between scientists/STEM experts and students to facilitate interest and success in STEM. As one teacher said, “Kids want to hear from real scientists.”
• Our unique cohort of volunteers who have extensive STEM subject matter expertise and diverse experiences.
• Our longstanding relationship with the Santa Fe Public School district and classroom teachers.
Is your business growing and do you plan to hire in the next 6 months?
We are always looking for new volunteers who have diverse STEM experiences and backgrounds as our programs grow and evolve. We also need volunteers who have specific talents and skills, such as photography, videography, social media, and website management to join our team.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you do business?
When schools closed, our volunteers began to convert all of our programs for remote learning. Based on requests from teachers, our volunteers created a digital library of STEM educational videos in English and Spanish and a learning guide, which can be accessed by any Santa Fe Public School student or teacher. Our volunteers also tutored and mentored students online, lead virtual classroom lessons, and met virtually with 450 students from 16 schools who participated in the SFPS virtual STEM fair. While our program delivery format has drastically changed due to the pandemic, we continue to provide a path for students to interact directly with “real scientists” to deepen STEM learning.
Share a goal you set for 2021.
We’re expanding our Adopt-A-Scientist program, which matches an Alliance volunteer with a classroom teacher all year to provide teacher-driven STEM support and resources. This program enables our volunteers to build deeper connections with students and teachers so kids see how STEM relates to everything.
Describe where you see technology in the year 2030.
I think we’ll continue to see dramatic changes in how technology is used in our lives, in our schools and in our communities. Advances in technology will provide us with new opportunities to create healthier communities and live healthier lives, which is why cultivating a young person’s STEM capabilities will remain critical.
Where do you stand – red, green, or Christmas?
My guess is Christmas but I know our volunteers would love to gather and test this out!
For more information about membership with the NMTC, contact Mary Tieman.
Thank you to our Community Partners!