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The Spark of STEM in Rural Areas



Jim Reed & Cory Olson

STEM Teachers

Forestview Middle School, Brainerd MN


VIDEO: The Spark of STEM in Rural Areas

Teachers Jim Reed and Cory Olson are known in the Brainerd region for their innovations in showing middle school students not just that science, technology, engineering, and math are important, but also why STEM fields are exciting and relevant in their everyday world. 

Jim was raised in Bismarck, ND, where he spent much of his childhood experimenting and trying to figure out how things worked and why. He took his interest to Moorhead State University, earning both an education degree and a Masters in Educational Technology and Library Media.

He has been teaching for 26 years. Jim says his drive to bring STEM to students comes from his personal experience as a parent. While other children excelled in sports, his child lingered on the sidelines, noticing the scoreboard and wanting to know how it worked. “Little was available for him in our rural community. I noticed dozens of students like him – capable and motivated by interests beyond sports.”

Cory stayed closer to home, growing up in Brainerd and earning his technology education degree from Bemidji State University. He later received his Masters in Education from SouthWest State University. He has been teaching for 13 years. Cory grew up watching his dad fix anything that needed fixing. “He always told me ‘If someone made it, it can be fixed.’ So from a young age I have always loved to figure out why and how things worked.”

As a team, Jim and Cory created the high altitude balloon class with the belief that we all have a need to explore, connect and challenge ourselves and be involved in something bigger than ourselves.