May 24, 2022


Contact: Sue Kane, suek@ncesd.org or 509-888-7036


Three North Central Washington students have been recognized as STEM Rising Stars by the Apple STEM Network.

The Washington STEM Rising Star Awards highlight the young thinkers, scientists, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who will become the next generation of STEM leaders.

The three regional STEM Rising Stars are:

  • Olivia Strandberg, 11th Grade, Chelan High School – Olivia was nominated by her teacher, Dr. Seth Manthey, who explained in her nomination that Olivia has been working over the past two summers through a virtual internship program with Fred Hutch Center for Cancer Research and has started an op-ed project to explore inequities in the biomedical and health sciences fields. “She [Olivia] is often pushing the edge of her understanding and peers, always seeking to understand more.” Olivia is considering a future in computational biology and wants to work on cancer and congenital disorders.
  • Miranda Nayak, 11th Grade, Wenatchee High School – Miranda was nominated by her teacher Mr. Doug Merrill who describes her as a “visionary” and “STEM student of the highest caliber.” Miranda has been an active member of the school robotics program. Four years ago, Miranda’s team placed at the Vex Worlds competition, and this year she took home the first-place prize for her digital video project, “A Day in the Life of a Ghost” at the Technology Students Association state contest. Miranda is considering a future in technology and art.
  • Kierstin Peart11th Grade, Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center – Kierstin was nominated by her teacher, Mr. Kim Anderson who said Kierstin is “a model STEM student. She is inquisitive and a consistent hard worker.” Kierstin is gaining experience in computer programming and technology in her courses at the Skills Center, but she is also really interested in understanding how animals interact. She’s considering a future career path in Marine Biology.

The three young women will be recognized at the NCW Tech Alliance summer social on August 4th. One regional Rising Star will be selected to represent North Central Washington. The awardees will receive a $500 stipend and will assume a year-long role representing North Central Washington alongside ten other STEM Rising Stars from 11 Washington STEM Networks across the state.

“These are three young women with incredible potential. It’s been truly inspirational to talk with each one and hear about her dreams to use her talents and abilities to solve complex problems, “ said Dr. Sue Kane, Co-Director of the Apple STEM Network. “It’s also a really powerful message for younger students across the region to see our community come together to celebrate these young women with bright futures in STEM.”

The Rising STEM Star awards serve as a way to encourage young women to embrace STEM education and explore the ways it will support their education, career, and personal development. All three young women were nominated by their teachers based on their involvement and passion for STEM academics and activities.

Nominees were considered based on the following criteria:

  • Their participation in STEM activities in or outside of the classroom (robotics, 4-H/ag science club, computer science group, etc.)
  • Their development or creation of STEM projects in or outside of the classroom (website development, business ventures, STEM-related art, etc.)
  • Their use of STEM as a means of service to their community and/or family (tutoring, volunteering with a STEM-based community program, etc.)
  • Their general passion for learning and exploring topics in STEM
  • Their academic excellence, particularly in STEM-focused subjects (exceptional grades or evaluations in a STEM course/class or overall)

About Apple STEM Network

The Apple STEM Network is a regional alliance of K-12, Higher Ed, and community partners in North Central Washington. We represent a diverse region with tremendous potential for STEM industry in agriculture, energy, and innovation. With our collective effort, we intend to: provide a constructive support system for educators who aim to meet the rising challenge for all students to develop 21st-century skills and STEM literacy, integrate community mentorship, and promote authentic project-based learning and field experiences for all levels of education, and engage students in exploring the world of opportunities on the horizon through STEM. For more information visit www.applestemnetwork.org

Media Contacts:

Dr. Sue Kane, Director of STEM Initiatives and Strategic Partnerships, North Central Educational Services District: suek@ncesd.org

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