Hands On Gainesville

Scientists inspiring a new generation of problem-solvers.

Our Board

Adrienne Thieke (left) & Barbara Beck

Jimmy Yawn

Heather Stover

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. 

Heather Stover holds a bachelor's degree in animal biology and works at the University of Florida as a Biological Scientist and in the Alachua County school system as a substitute teacher. She is a 2026 MBA candidate at the University of Florida. She values spending her spare time riding horses with her family and playing tennis in the community.

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.




Our Team

Melissa Montgomery holds a Master Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida.  Born and raised in Jacksonville, she has 50 years of work experience in public service agencies including Duval County, St. Johns County, and Alachua County.  Her expertise is in grants management and building partnerships.  She recently retired from grants management for the local school district and is now serving on the Hands On Gainesville Board. She was formerly a ballet dancer and is currently an equine enthusiast.  Melissa has built a horse group across a span of counties in Florida and rides regularly with her members.  She and her husband operate small cattle and horse ranch.

Aliza Bar-David