Hands On Gainesville

Immersing Students in Science & Technology of Our Community

Our Board

Adrienne Thieke (left) & Barbara Beck

Jimmy Yawn

Shannon Lohrentz

Maureen Shankman

Adrienne Thieke, scientist-turned-school teacher, is the president and a founding member of Hands On Gainesville. Mrs. Thieke got her start working in Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and later worked as a Quality Assurance/ Quality Control chemist for the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory in Oakland, California,  for Ametek Corporation in Wallingford, Connecticut, and for Environmental Sciences and Engineering Inc. in Gainesville, Florida.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, a Master of Science degree in Metallurgy, and has worked as a private school K-2nd Grade Science teacher, a certified public middle school teacher from 2003-2015 and a certified Chemistry teacher in high school where she engaged students in hands on activities in the classroom, as well as in after-school clubs.  In 2014, Mrs. Thieke was one of six teachers nationwide to win the Trailblazing Teacher Award for her “commitment to advancing ecoliteracy and bring sustainability into the classroom” and was an Einstein Fellow semifinalist.  Ms. Thieke is now a full time CEO of Hands On Gainesville where she continues her teaching passion in an informal science education setting and mentors others to teach the Hands On way. 


Barbara Beck, electrical engineer, retired in 2011 from a career designing radio frequency (RF) circuits for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems.  Since retiring, Ms. Beck has been volunteering at local schools to assist with science activities and after-school clubs.  As a founding member of Hands On Gainesville, Ms. Beck has worked closely with other board members to establish and promote Hands On Gainesville in our community.   Ms. Beck is dedicated to sharing her love of engineering with students of all ages.  She developed the Kid Power Bike to demonstrate energy conversion principles.  Check out our Events page to see kids in action riding the bike.   Ms. Beck also enjoys playing Baroque and Renaissance music on period instruments and currently performs with the Gainesville groups Musica Vera Consort and Pastyme with Good Companye.


Jimmy Yawn, has been the Coordinator of the Career resource Center at Santa Fe College since 1991. Motto:  Career Counselor by trade, Rocket Scientist by nature.  A leading developer of environmentally-friendly rocket propellants, he is a member of multiple national and international rocketry associations. He gives rocketry demonstrations at local schools, teaches rocketry classes for community groups, serves as mentor for the University of Florida Rocket Team, and as Judge and flight safety reviewer for the Spaceport America Cup. In his spare time, Mr. Yawn enjoys music and makes and plays bamboo flutes, among other instruments. 


Shannon Lohrentz is an attorney and non-profit cheerleader.  She specializes in grant writing, specifically in the field of education, and has worked with a number of non-profits in the last decade. Currently home-educating her four children in Chicago, Ms. Lohrentz places an emphasis on fostering children’s lifelong love of learning and encouraging curiosity.  It was this aspect of Hands on Gainesville that drew her to the organization, the idea that children need to be curious about the world around them, both in and out of the classroom. She currently also serves on the board of the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, and in her free time enjoys reading and exploring the fantastic cultural institutions in Chicago with her family.   

Maureen Shankman has been a hands-on science educator for 24 years.  In addition to teaching, she has served in science leadership positions such as the Project Coordinator for the Math and Science Partnership(MSP) and ACPS Science Curriculum Specialist for K-12.  Currently, she is the Aviation STEM Coordinator at Gleim Aviation in Gainesville, Fl. Fun fact: she was a competitive surfer at one time and is now learning to fly.