Meet the Society’s Invention Education Ambassadors  - Society for Science Skip to content

Meet the Society’s Invention Education Ambassadors 

By Gayle Kansagor

Image contains headshots of all four invention education ambassadors.
The inaugural class of Invention Education Ambassadors is working to develop educational tools and materials that will benefit educators (clockwise) Courtesy of Yajaira Torres-De Jesús, Jill Hansen, Carolyn Walling and Toni Marie Mapuana Kaui

Society for Science is excited to introduce our inaugural class of Invention Education Ambassadors, who are working in collaboration with our first-ever Invention Education Fellow, Yolanda Payne. They will provide proven classroom strategies that incorporate invention education and research into the curricula. All veteran educators, the ambassadors are sharing what works in a variety of educational contexts to get students interested in research, invention and innovation. The Ambassadors are actively developing educational tools and materials that will benefit educators. These tools and the fellow/ambassador programming is intended to enhance access into the fields of student research and invention education.

Yajaira Torres-De Jesús is an expert in STEAM and passionate about nature, research and invention education. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education with a specialty in teaching research and statistics. She teaches at Colegio Rosa-Bell, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico where she also leads her department and mentors through the Research STEAMina for All, a program that she formed when participating in the Society’s Advocate Program. Yajaira, who has taught for 20 years, coaches teachers in STEAM strategies and Invention Education. “My north will always be to aim at promoting the right environment to complement the teaching and learning process where students feel welcome, are motivated and make their research ideas come true,” says Yajaira. Yajaira was recently featured in the docuseries, Science Fair: the Series, available on Hulu and Disney+. You can learn about her experience here

Jill Hansen serves as the K-12 Science Instructional Specialist for Bay District Schools, providing support to teachers across 42 schools with science curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Jill earned her master’s in biology education from the University of West Alabama and brings 21 years of experience teaching biology and environmental science in Alabama and Florida. She has primarily taught at Bay High School and Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.  She also currently serves as the BDS Invention Convention Director. 

Carolyn Walling graduated from Grinnell College with degrees in Chemistry and Spanish and received her master’s degree in teaching at Drake University. Carolyn has been teaching chemistry since 1994 in both Missouri and Iowa. In addition to her teaching assignments, she leads her school’s National Honor Society and science fair team. Carolyn has mentored award-winning students during her tenure and is delving into the intricacies of student research and invention.   “I am so excited to have been selected as a High School Invention Ambassador.  I am looking forward to helping other teachers add components of invention into their science research programs.”  

Toni Marie Mapuana Kaui is in her 20th year as a secondary STEAM teacher and 7th year in higher education. She holds a Ph.D in Integrative K-12 STEM Education from Virginia Tech, a master’s in education administration from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and dual bachelor’s degrees in Architecture and Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2019, she founded and opened a small independent competency-based high school in East Hawaii known as Nā Hunaahi, which helps perpetuate and preserve  the Native Hawaiian language and cultural practices through design-based integrative STEAM curricula.  

Lucy Curtis