Marie Aloia is an alternate-route engineering teacher at Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey, where she teaches Intro to Engineering (a class in fundamentals) and Engineering (a second year portfolio class) from a curriculum she designed. She also coaches two FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams, advises students conducting research for science fairs, and is involved in a Technology Students Association chapter, among several other activities. She was recently awarded a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award for work in promoting engineering among students.
Question 1: Did you always want to teach?
Answer: Initially, teaching was the last thing I wanted to do. I was the first one in my family to go to college. There I majored in math and physics because I loved them, not because I had a long-term plan. In my first real job I discovered engineering, and a funny thing happened: as I was on the way to grad school, I got a second degree in chemical engineering, at night. I was also invited to join my company’s educational speakers’ bureau, to tell middle school students about scientific careers. I had to do this, because nobody invited me to be a scientist or engineer when I was in school. It got me in a classroom and slowly changed my mind about teaching.
Question 2: What fuels your passion for teaching your subject?
Answer: Science is cool, and engineering is science you can play with.
Question 3: What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: When I see my students own their work, and sometimes win awards for it.
Question 4: Share a story about teaching.
Answer: There are always student projects of all kinds going on in my classroom, so it’s never pristinely clean or orderly, no matter what I do. To cover a hole in the wall left by a replacement Smartboard, I hung a sign that read “Entropy in Progress, the second law of Thermodynamics lives here.” Everyone laughed! My students challenged each other to get the joke, and clean up after themselves.
Question 5: In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?
Answer: To “Think like Engineers”
Meet More AAAS Members Who Teach