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TOP Alumni Mohamad Barbarji and Katherine Mangum highlight solar energy as they share engineering design challenges inspired by their experiences in two of Germany's most sustainable communities - Feldheim and Freiburg. High school educator Mohamad will walk participants through a solar town with its power grid. Katherine will offer ideas to get upper elementary students designing, building, and racing their own solar Bächleboot.

Items for Ice Breaker

  • 1. String (fishing line, nylon string) 16-20 ft
  • 2 balloons (one needed and the other just in case)
  • 12" Masking tape
  • 2 popsicle sticks
  • Wooden Clothespin (if not available we use popsicle sticks)
  • 2-3 Rubber bands
  • 2- Straws

About Katherine Mangum

Katherine Mangum is currently a fifth grade science, engineering, and robotics teacher at St. Catherine’s Middle School in Richmond, VA.  A TOP STEM alum, she traveled to Germany in 2015 and 2019. A member of the Virginia Children’s Engineering Council, Katherine previously served as president and currently participates in planning the VCEC’s annual convention. She is a member of the 100Kin10 Teacher Forum and is a teacher advisor with the ODU Ed+gineering NSF program. She is a past recipient of the VAST Donna Sterling Exemplary Educator Award, the VAIS Innovation in Teaching Award, the Master Teaching Chair in Science at St. Catherine’s, and the Katherine B. Madden Award for Excellence in Teaching. Outside of the classroom, Katherine enjoys cheering on her son’s sports teams and making s’mores with the family in Rockbridge Baths, VA.

About ​Mohamad Barbarji

Mohamad Barbarji is currently a high school technology and engineering teacher at West Point High School in West Point, VA. A TOP STEM alum, he traveled to Germany in 2019. Mohamad is a member of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and was named Distinguished Technology and Engineering Educator of the year. A member of the VCEC and a member of the VTEEA. Mohamad also served as a President for the State Association, VTEEA. Mohamad was selected as a teacher of the year as well as a division teacher of the year multiple times during his 28 years of teaching. Mohamad in 2016-2018, travelled to Kuwait and trained teachers on implementing the National STEM curriculum in Engineering by Design. Mohamad also traveled to Cuba in 2017 and trained 80 middle and high school teachers in the use of technology in their curriculum. Mohamad was selected State Teacher of the Year through the VTEEA and ITEEA as well as the technology and engineering program at West Point high school. Mohamad was selected National Educator of the Year through AIAA in 2012. Outside the classroom, Mohamad enjoys watching tennis as well as coaching for the high school. He has been coaching soccer for 24 years. Mohamad also enjoys spending his free time with his family and listening to his oldest son playing the trumpet and the youngest playing the violin.