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How Pivot Interactives Helped Create a Community of Science Enthusiasts

Success Stories

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Westside Community Schools
Omaha, Nebraska

Meet Judith Stucky, the "Original" Pivot Interactives Teacher

Judith (Judy) Stucky never thought she would go into education. But when she discovered a love of teaching science, not only was she pleasantly surprised, but she was hooked!

In college, I kept changing my major repeatedly, from computer science to electrical engineering, to physics. But I had a wonderful physics professor who asked me to be a TA for one of his physics labs. It was the best class I had and was truly the highlight of my time as a student. Every week I helped other people learn physics … I got to show them how much fun physics was!

Fast forward 33 years later, and Judy still loves every minute of teaching. Today, she is a physics instructor at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, where she has been teaching for the last two decades. It was here that she first discovered Pivot Interactives, becoming the first teacher to use the program. She still uses it today and continues to find creative ways to bring science to life for her students and share Pivot with her colleagues. We spoke with Judy to learn more about how she first came to use Pivot Interactives and how the partnership has grown over the years to support teachers and students at the high school in many ways.

Pivot Interactives' Impact on Westside High School

Westside High School is unusual in that physics is one of the graduation requirements. Because of this, the school offers a variety of physics classes to reach a broad spectrum of students, including AP Physics 1 and 2, and AP Physics C (Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism). Like her experience as a TA, Judy saw an opportunity to engage all students with the subject. She leaned on Pivot Interactives to help her.

Just like when I was a TA in college, I’m engaging with high school students several times a day, and many times with those who don’t necessarily like math or physics but are required to take the class. I try to show them how much fun I think it is, but also get them interested along the way. I was also part of a STEM team for a variety of courses, including engineering and mechanics, for students who are really interested in these subject areas.

Adopting Pivot allowed Judy to move away from the textbook labs and toward a higher variety of labs. It also gives science instructors more tools and experiences to demonstrate the different topics and ideas they want to share with students.

At first, teaching physics was just textbooks and whatever labs I made up. But when I had to teach AP Physics B for the first time, I needed more advanced labs that included Vernier Graphical Analysis. With Pivot, the labs were already there! Labs that I never thought of, that include engaging videos. The students loved it and found it fascinating to record things and calculate energy and motion. With the frame-by-frame analysis, they can break down any type of motion, and those students want detail and precision in their measurements. They also know Pivot will help make the graph for them. My AP Physics C students still ask if they can use Pivot—it’s their go-to!

Lesson Planning & Skill Building

What Judy finds helpful is both the Pivot team in their attentiveness, and the effective, multi-purpose use of Pivot itself—keeping students on track when anyone is absent (including her), remediating general physics skills, and allowing students to steer the activity to learn new skills. It even offers hands-on labs in a digital setting that provide a similar experience students would see in the classroom.

Pivot allows for a higher variety of labs and, in some ways, helps speed up part of the lesson. If we’re done teaching graphing skills, for example, why not have the program graph some of the labs we do so we can focus more on physics and skip plotting points? It gives us a wider variety of tools and experiences that we can use to demonstrate the many topics and ideas we want to share with our students.

We also use Pivot often for summative labs. While students can consult each other for help, they all must do their own work! One lab in Pivot has 40 different videos, so the odds of having two students with the same video were very slim. This sets them up to help each other, but not copy off each other.

When the science team went to the NSTA conference, we used Pivot to help us plan lessons. On day one the students received the data, on day two they got the graph, and on day three they completed an extension activity and finished up the lab. Pivot is so helpful for us with such short class periods—we save time, and the students can’t lose their work!

Students' Perspective

My AP students want to videotape every lab that they do and put it in Pivot! For my reluctant students, they like that Pivot helps them create the graph and offers the flexibility of completing work at home. They also love that some questions tell them if they’re right or wrong and that even the open-ended questions give them a chance to review the data as they answer.

Lightbulb Moments

Judy and her colleagues at Westside High School believe Pivot helps students build skills they use in higher-level classes, and in many cases inspires them to rethink their interest in STEM.

I once had a student in general physics who didn’t like math and science much, until physics. He was always very good at doing the labs in Pivot and asking questions. The next year, this “reluctant” science student signed up for AP physics and did very well! What we did in general physics made him see a different side to math and science that he really enjoyed.

Judy and her colleagues at Westside High School believe Pivot helps students build skills they use in higher-level classes, and in many cases inspires them to rethink their interest in STEM.

We are finally getting non-physics teachers on board with Pivot! Chemistry teachers and the biology team both have started using it. In fact, the chemistry teacher came to me right after trying it and said, “We just used Pivot for the first time, and it is awesome!” With the biology team, there was some hesitancy, but we have one teacher who teaches physics and biology. After using Pivot 2-3 times in the first month, teachers and students are really enjoying it! All in all, Pivot simplifies your life as a teacher and student learning without adding to your workload.

Advice from a Veteran Teacher

It’s teachers like Judy Stucky that show how choosing the right EdTech tools, and using them effectively, supports students in so many ways, and allows teachers to be the teacher they set out to be. We asked her what kind of advice she would bestow upon other teachers first starting out and gave us some insight that we couldn’t have said better.

From 5 AM to 10 PM, you make a million decisions as a science teacher—spur of the moment changes you must adapt to. It can be frustrating, but you make a difference. You see those differences years down the road. I’m still in contact with students from 30 years ago! Just remember, you can’t be that person for every student, but you can certainly be that person, that impactful teacher, for someone. They need you and you need them, making it very rewarding.

Quick Facts

Partnership Details

  • 14 schools serving 6,200 students
  • Partners with Pivot Interactives since 2012


  • Pivot Interactives

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental 
  • Hands-on Learning
  • Cross-Curricular Support
  • Teacher Support

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