- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ST. JOHN, Ind. (AP) - Katelin Ellis developed her love for teaching at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked summers during her college years.

Ellis worked in the education department at SeaWorld for a total of three years, teaching middle and high school students from across the country about beluga whales and dolphins.

Ellis initially planned to become a marine biologist and working at SeaWorld gave her an opportunity to explain to children that whales are warm-blooded mammals, just like humans. She passed on other interesting facts like there are 86 species of whales that are currently recognized, from the tiny Hector’s dolphin (at about 39 inches long) to the gigantic blue whale. She told students about what whales ate and their habitat. SeaWorld is one of the few places in the world where visitors can enter a beluga habitat and interact with the animals.

Today, Ellis has transferred that enthusiasm and love of working with students into the classroom, where she teaches honors chemistry and biology at Lake Central High School.

Ellis, who graduated from East Noble High School in Kendallville, Indiana, and later earned degrees in chemistry and biology from Purdue University, is in her fourth year as a teacher at Lake Central. She said she came to this area with her husband, who is from the region and works at a steel mill.

“I love teaching. I love my job,” Ellis told The Times of Munster (https://bit.ly/1xHM0Oo ).

“There are fewer people going into teaching now because of all of the politics involved. I think the students can tell when a teacher enjoys the job. I try to transfer my love for chemistry and biology to the students. I know there are some people in here who don’t like chemistry and don’t plan to pursue it, but they enjoy the labs.”

Last week, students made crystallized holiday ornaments by dissolving sodium borate into water and letting it sit overnight. The students do three labs for each unit in the book. The honors biology class also does a lot of project-based assignments using a set of chrome books in Ellis’ class.

Ellis especially enjoys promoting science to her female students. Last year, she was a member of a group at Lake Central High called the Women in Science Education club that visited local elementary schools promoting science education for young girls.

Sophomore Aisha Choudhry, 16, said she loves science and plans to become a pediatrician or a neurologist. She is also on the school’s Science Olympiad team. “Sometimes the classes are challenging but it’s worth it,” she said.

Sophomore Ryan Kilinski, 16, also wants to major in medicine when he gets to college, and plans to take dual-credit courses next year.

Next year, students will get a chance to bring their own devices to the classroom, but sophomore Michael Clark already carries his laptop everywhere - “just in case I need to do some research,” he said.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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