Bringing Together Leaders in the Fields of STEM and Education

The MathFinder initiative is led by organizations with a long history of excellence in innovative STEM education. Community-based STEM-focused nonprofit talkSTEM and prestigious research institution Southern Methodist University (SMU) have been collaborating on projects for several years, and the two organizations have partnered again for MathFinder. The partnership is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

talkSTEM is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to empower children from all income levels, ethnicities, and genders to see STEM as a fluid and intriguing part of their daily lives, experiences, and environments. For more information, visit

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The NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program supports ongoing, evidence-based improvement and ideation development for innovations in STEM learning opportunities in informal environments. For more information, visit

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Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a nationally ranked private university located near the heart of Dallas, Texas. SMU is a distinguished center for global research with a liberal arts tradition. For more information, visit

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Project Management Team

Dr. Max Sherard
Dr. Max Sherard

Dr. Max Sherard is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Southern Methodist University, working with Drs. Petrosino and Walkington.

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Dr. Candace Walkington (PI)

Dr. Walkington is an Associate Professor of math education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southern Methodist University. Her role on the project will be leading the team, organizing advisory board and evaluator meetings, and overseeing all research studies and dissemination to the math education community.

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Dr. Koshi Dhingra (Co-PI)

Dr. Dhingra is Founder and CEO of the talkSTEM non-profit. Her role on the project will be working in partnership with the Guildhall to inform the development of the game, coordinating the activities of informal learning site partners, and leading dissemination to informal learning sites and the community.

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Dr. Anthony Petrosino (Co-PI)

Dr. Petrosino is a Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Outreach at SMU. His role will be co-leading the training of informal educators, supporting all research studies, and disseminating to the informal science and learning sciences communities.

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Elizabeth Stringer (Co-PI)

Elizabeth is the Director of Academics of the Guildhall Video Game Design program at SMU. She will be working closely with the programming, game design, and art leads throughout the app’s development.

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Dr. Cathy Ringstaff (External Evaluator)

Dr. Ringstaff is a Senior Research Associate in WestEd’s STEM program. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Stanford University and an Ed.S. in evaluation. She will serve as the PI for the evaluation.

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Brian Rust

Brian is the Lead Programmer on the MathFinder project with HuMIn Game Lab.

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Joowon Kim

Joowon, a Lecturer at the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, is the Lead Game Designer on the MathFinder project.

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Martin Sawkins

Martin, a Professor of Practice at the Guildhall at SMU, is the Artistic Lead on the MathFinder Project.

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Saki Milton

Saki is a former middle school math teacher and STEM girls’ advocate. She is a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Walkington, supporting the project.

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Marc Sager

Marc is a doctoral student and former secondary agricultural science educator. He will be supporting Dr. Petrosino with training the informal educators, supporting research studies, and disseminating to the informal and learning sciences communities.

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Hannah Pruitt

Hannah brings her organizational and project management experience to the team. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Counseling at SMU, with a plan to be a public school counselor.

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Learning Site Partners

Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Youth STEM Initiative targets both girls and boys, grades 3rd-12th, in Title I schools in Dallas County.

Girl Scouts STEM Center of Excellence provides year-round opportunities in robotics, coding, botany, chemistry, and more.

Dallas Zoo summer camps are for K-5 students and encourage exploration, education, and empathy for wildlife and nature.

St. Philip’s School and Community Center provides after-school programs to south Dallas elementary students.

Twelve Hills Nature Center teaches Oak Cliff children about conservancy and restoring native flora and fauna while fostering a love for the outdoors.

The Dallas Arboretum inspires environmental stewardship through garden-based experiences including field trips, outreach, and after-school lessons

The GEMS Camp provides middle and high school girls of color summer and school-year experiences like mentorship, project-based learning, travel, and career exploration.

The Dallas Museum of Art provides free programs and increased opportunities throughout the city for participants of all ages to create and connect with art and each other.

Voice of Hope Ministries Redeeming STEM after-school program serves middle school girls to help them develop their natural talents in STEM.

Advisory Council

Dr. Glen Whitney

Dr. Whitney is the founder of the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City and holds a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from UCLA. Dr. Whitney has designed site-specific math walks across the country.

Dr. Rick Duschl

Dr. Duschl is the Executive Director of the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at Southern Methodist University. His research examines science inquiry and argumentation.

Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton

Dr. Barton is a professor in STEM Education at the University of Michigan. Her research is grounded in formal/informal education, designing new possibilities for equitably consequential learning with a social justice orientation.

Dr. Flavio Azevedo

Dr. Azevedo is an associate professor in STEM Education at UT Austin. His research examines the nature of interest-driven participation in STEM, particularly out-of-school.

Dr. Teddy Chao

Dr. Chao is an Assistant Professor in Math Education at The Ohio State University, and his research involves designing educational math apps for teachers and children, and issues of equity and social justice in mathematics.

Dr. Lynn Dierking

Dr. Dierking is a professor in science education at Oregon State. Her research examines the engagement of underserved communities in informal free-choice learning settings.

Dr. Erin Ottmar

Dr. Ottmar is an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who studies the scale-up of mobile educational math games.