August 4, 2017
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning remains at the forefront of much of the work of the Anchorage School District. STEM learning in the ASD is directed by Amanda Barr and Dr. Jennifer Witter, math and science coordinators. Anchorage School Board President, Tam Agosti-Gisler made a splash in STEM learning before it was in the lead of learning. Her experiences were recently highlighted by the Society for Science and the Public, “This alumna’s life might give you a case of wanderlust,” wrote Society for Science and the Public staff.
In response to the blog comments about her career in languages after considering a career in microbiology, Ms. Agosti-Gisler shared with ASD Currriculum and Instruction senior director, Brandon Locke, “This organization recently asked to do a story on me as one of the two students Alaska sent to the International Science and Engineering Fair in 1972. It focuses on how my life was impacted by science fairs up to my present day school board service.” Looking back at two articles in the Anchorage Daily Times and the sister publication, Alaska Daily News (now the Alaska Dispatch News), from her junior high years at Romig (Middle School), was one of only five junior high students to ever take the top honor in the Alaska State Science Fair. Agosti and Mary Helms, then a student at West High, represented Alaska in the international science fair in New Orleans. “Miss Agosti’s effort shows a means of dissipating oil spills through a microorganism process that degenerates oil into an organic material readily absorbed by the environment,” wrote the reporter in the Anchorage Daily News, March 18, 1972. Agosti and Helms had spent the previous summer in what Bob Ortalda, an Alaska Daily Times’ reporter called, “a unique way.” The two conducted experiments searching for bacteria that would “eat up” oil spills on the North Slope.
Agosti-Gisler told Brandon Locke, “Come to think of it, I don’t know if you ever knew I was a science geek in junior and senior high school. The big decision I had to make my first year at Stanford was between studying microbiology or international relations/languages. You know which one won!” Serving the School Board in her second term, Agosti-Gisler is a product of the ASD. An avid traveler and photographer, Tam has visited more than 70 countries, speaks several languages, and has taught English in Africa and Asia.
Knowing that Ms. Agosti-Gisler continues her strong interest in STEM learning, as well as her high achievements in languages, it is easy to see why the blog writer for the Society for Science and the Public characterizes her story as one of a wanderlust.
ASD Communications and Community Outreach