The NSTA Recognition and Awards program is proud to announce its 2006 awardees.
Robert H. Carleton Award for National Leadership in the Field of Science Education
Sponsored by the Dow Chemical Corporation
This is the most prestigious award an NSTA member may receive. The Robert H. Carleton Award recognizes one individual who has made outstanding contributions to and provided leadership in science education at the national level and to NSTA in particular. It is NSTA’s highest honor.
The awardee receives $5,000; a formal citation; and an all-expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education.
NSTA President 1996–1997
Science Education Author and Consultant
JoAnne Vasquez has spent more than 30 years making a difference in how science is taught to children. She has been an elementary teacher, an informal science education consultant, a district-level science resource teacher, a university adjunct professor, a curriculum writer, and a national staff developer. Her service to NSTA spans more than 20 years and includes serving on more than 10 committees, including conference planning committees, as well as leadership roles with the Executive Board and Council. She has presented sessions at every national conference since 1983. She currently works as an elementary science author, speaker, and facilitator of professional development.
* * * * *
Distinguished Informal Science Education Award
This award honors NSTA members who are not classroom teachers and who teach science in an informal setting (i.e., museum, science-technology center, or community science center) and who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of science education in an informal or nontraditional school setting.
The awardee receives a formal citation, three nights’ hotel accommodation, and $200 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Director and CEO
New York Hall of Science
Queens, New York
Alan Friedman is a leader of the international museum community. He is known for his work in evaluating informal learning environments, expanding access to science and technology for underrepresented audiences, and using interdisciplinary perspectives to explain science and technology to the broader culture. His career spans three decades and two continents. In his current position as director and CEO of the New York Hall of Science, he has spearheaded the museum’s rise to international prominence as a leading innovator in exhibition design; an advocate for promoting career access in the sciences, technology, and education; and as a model institution for informal science learning.
* * * * *
Distinguished Service to Science Education Award
This award honors NSTA members who through active leadership and scholarly endeavor over a significant period of time have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of education in the sciences and science teaching.
The awardee receives a formal citation, three nights’ hotel accommodation, and $500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Thomas Gadsden, Jr.
Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, Texas
Thomas Gadsden, Jr., has been a science educator for 38 years. He has led NSTA conferences, contributed to three of the association’s task forces (including the Task Force on Science Education for the 21st Century), and served on two NSTA Advisory Boards. Gadsden helped create the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) and made it an integral part of systemic improvement of science education, building a network of 150 ENC Access Centers and collaborating with more than 200 organizations.
* * * * *
Ciba Specialty Chemicals High School Principal Award
Sponsored by CIBA Specialty Chemicals Education Foundation
This program recognizes one principal who has demonstrated leadership in developing, implementing, and maintaining an outstanding science program; supported staff development in science; promoted positive relationships between the school science program and the community; and has been an advocate and leader for the development of science process skills and positive attitudes toward science among children and teachers.
Recipients of the Ciba Awards are presented with a check for $2,000 and $500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Richard L. Kolowski
Millard West High School
Richard L. Kolowski has been an educator for 39 years and is in his 13th year as principal of Millard West High School. In 1993, he helped build this school from the ground up. In addition, he developed a curriculum model in which each department’s staff follows the state and national standards of their particular discipline. He has worked with local businesses, including a nursery, to create a pond on campus that is used for longitudinal studies of water quality. The 64-acre campus now has approximately 800 trees, as well as a greenhouse where growing experiments are started from scratch. Kolowski plans to add another 55,000 square feet to the campus that will include eight new science classrooms, three of which will be state-of-the-art chemistry rooms, along with two new physics rooms.
* * * * *
Ciba Specialty Chemicals Middle Level and High School Science Teaching Award
Sponsored by the CIBA Specialty Chemicals Education Foundation
This program recognizes one teacher who has demonstrated exemplary science teaching in one or more of the following areas: creativity using science education materials; design and use of innovative teaching plans and ideas; and development and implementation of department, school, or school-community programs that improve science instruction and stimulate interest in science and the learning of science.
Recipients of the Ciba Awards are presented with a check for $2,000 and $500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Eighth-Grade Science Teacher
Eastern Heights Junior High School
Every spring, the 120 eighth graders in Rick Walton’s team build a rocket. He uses this activity to provide students with hands-on experiences that help them better understand the abstract concepts taught in physical science, Earth science, and astronomy. Walton uses computers to access interactive video and the internet. During the rocketry unit, students learn the importance of each part of the rocket for space exploration missions, both staffed and unstaffed. Students develop a better understanding of the Laws of Motion and how they apply to space flight. They discover how the curvature of the Earth and its atmosphere play a role in predicting where rockets will splash down and how to calculate the descent to ensure a safe and secure landing. Students play the roles of rocket engineer, shuttle pilot and Houston Control as they build and launch their rockets. That challenge—getting their rocket to fly the highest—is the single best motivator during this unit. While the students’ goal is to build the winning rocket, along the way they learn complex and abstract theoretical scientific concepts.
High School Level
Parkview High School
Colby Fronterhouse seizes “teachable moments” as they arise. A rainy morning gave him the opportunity to facilitate inquiry-based learning and present it to students in a dramatic real-life event during which they could see the uses and importance of science. While it rained, the students noticed that water was collecting on the cafeteria roof. As that day’s lesson focused on mass, volume, and properties of water, Fronterhouse quickly designed an alternative lesson for the period. He asked students to estimate the volume and mass of the water on the roof. They designed a method to determine the exact volume and mass of the water. Conversions, scientific notations, and proper units were discussed. Midway through the period, the students discovered that nearly 52 tons of water had collected on the roof. Each student wrote to the principal to inform her of a possible ceiling collapse and included calculations to support their theory. A short while later, the roof did collapse, luckily hurting no one. Witnessing this firsthand, each student was able to take ownership of their learning, experiments, and predictions.
* * * * *
DCAT “Making a Difference” Award
Sponsored by the Drug, Chemical, and Associated Technologies Association
This award is given to one science teacher (K–12) and his or her principal for support, development, and implementation of an innovative science program that encourages students to explore and investigate science and its application to global problems.
The award consists of $2,500 to be used to enhance or expand the winning science program. The teacher and principal are both awarded airfare and two nights’ hotel accommodation to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Barbara McFall, Lead Science Teacher
Betsye Sargent, Principal
The Phoenix School
Program Title—Innovative Construction by Kids: Science for the Real World
At The Phoenix School, the sixth- through eighth-grade students are part of a project designed to integrate science, math, and technology and design, art, and problem-solving skills in a way that provides a service to the community—an Annual Haunted Happenings Children’s Costume Party. After investigating and experimenting with simple machines and electronics, the students apply their knowledge to create a game featuring working parts that perform particular functions. The students form collaborative learning teams, brainstorm possible ideas, analyze possibilities, and decide what their game will be and how it will work. They draw designs of their game, and then build a working model to test. Finally, they build the full-scale replica, adding the artistic elements that make it a Halloween game. In 2005, they created a miniature golf course, including a Haunted Hole of Doom that had an elevator to carry the golf ball up and then drop it onto a ramp that led to the hole. The course also had a Haunted Castle Hole with a motion sensor that opened the door to the castle when the golf ball approached it.
* * * * *
Delta Education/CPO Science Education Award for Excellence in Inquiry-Based Science Teaching
This award recognizes full-time preK–12 teachers of science who successfully use inquiry-based science to enhance teaching and learning in their classroom.
Recipients are awarded a $1,500 check and an all-expense-paid trip (not to exceed $1,500) to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Elementary and Middle Level
Sponsored by Delta Education
Priceville Elementary School
Debbie Easley received grant funds and used them to install a pond at her elementary school. As projects were born, use of the pond extended across the curriculum and throughout the campus. A courtyard filled with diverse plant life followed, then a bridge was constructed over drainage area. Next, an outdoor amphitheater was built, and a “Garden of Reading” was created. Students create pond journals and are expected to include detailed drawings and journal entries. Students conduct water activities, including testing pH and DO; count living organisms in the pond; and record data in their journal. The program includes all grade levels: kindergarteners study living things; first graders study organisms; second graders study butterflies; third graders examine plant growth and development; and fifth graders explore the microworld and ecosystems. All students use the “living laboratory” to conduct investigations, and it provides opportunities for inquiry.
Seventh-Grade Science Teacher
Durham School of the Arts
Durham, North Carolina
Jan Schuettpelz’ science program is tri-fold: classroom engagement, extracurricular activities, and professional development. Each component is strongly inquiry-based. To encourage student inquiry, she has implemented a program called P.A.T. (Preferred Activity Time). Students earn time each week by saving classroom time; if they clean up a lab quickly, for example, then time is added. Schuettpelz e then challenges students with activities like the egg drop or the building of aluminum rafts. Her student “scientists” design, build, and test model arms to try to determine why chimpanzees can lift three times as much as humans when they have only have one-third of humans’ muscle mass. Her impact goes beyond the school: She has developed a series of four life science units that that teachers can download. These units center on inquiry, real-world application, and science and literacy connections.
High School Level
Sponsored by CPO Science
Chemistry and Physics Teacher
Hayden High School
Kelly Deters made the transition from having only one inquiry lab in her course to writing a textbook that includes inquiry at least once in each of its 12 chapters. Her curriculum integrates inquiry and real-world application throughout the high school chemistry course. The new curriculum centers on various real-world themes, with each chapter investigating a different theme. Students learn the chemical concepts needed to understand the theme. One theme investigates which antacids work better, generic or a popular brand, for example. Students design their own experiments. At first, they receive significant guidance on an “introduction to inquiry” while they investigate. As the curriculum progresses and students gain more experience with inquiry, they receive less instruction and guidance. Deters has shared her curriculum with other teachers through professional development sessions and presentations at district functions and has written several publications.
* * * * *
Faraday Science Communicator Award
Sponsored by the Discovery Channel
This award recognizes an individual or organization that has inspired and elevated the public’s interest in and appreciation of science.
The awardee will receive a check for $5,000 and all-expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Executive Associate Director
San Francisco, California
Rob Semper, a physicist and science educator, serves as executive associate director of the Exploratorium, director of the Exploratorium's Center for Media and Communications, and interim director of the Exploratorium’s Center for Teaching and Learning. In addition to supporting the Exploratorium’s graphics, media, editorial, and information resources needs, the Center for Media and Communications is home to an extensive commercial publishing program; various radio and television broadcast projects; the Interactive Media Laboratory, which researches the use of new tools for learning; and the Exploratorium's website and web cast activities, which develop interactive media for the museum setting and external venues. The Center for Teaching and Learning supports the relationship between the Exploratorium and the formal education environment through teacher development activities, field trips, and explainer programs and outreach efforts and is the headquarters for CILS, the Center for Informal Learning and Schools. Semper also serves as executive producer of The Exploratorium’s X-Lab, an integrated children’s television, publication, and website project focused on developing problem-solving skills.
* * * * *
Gustav Ohaus Award for Innovations in Science Teaching
Sponsored by Ohaus Corporation
This award honors one science teacher who has shown continual innovation in the teaching of science in one or a combination of the following areas: new curriculum design, instructional methods or techniques, unique organization, administrative patterns, new approach to laboratory activities, or other enhanced learning activity for students.
The awardee receives a $1,500 check and $1,500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program
Program Title—Entomology on the Eastern Coast
In 2002, Dat Le developed this project with the idea of improving science education by providing students with hands-on, “out-of-class” learning experiences that complement concepts covered in class. In addition to studying and mastering insect taxonomy, students gain a solid understanding of the relationship between insects and the environment. By using insects as pollutant indicators, students were able to study the human impact on the Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Throughout the year, students participated in fieldwork by collecting, surveying, and monitoring insects. They then developed hypotheses about the quality of the environment based on insect presence. They tested their hypotheses by conducting water- and soil-quality testing to determine the environmental health of the area. This program can be implemented by teachers nationwide. Key concepts can be applied to all geographical regions where teachers can help students recognize the interrelationships among land, air, water, insects, and human activities.
* * * * *
SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Environmental Educator of the Year
Sponsored by SeaWorld/Busch Gardens
This award recognizes and rewards the outstanding teacher of eight award-winning programs selected to receive the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fujifilm Environmental Excellence Awards.
The awardee receives $5,000 and an all- expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Lynden Christian High School
Harlan Kredit has a passion for the environment coupled with a goal to establish an ethic of environmental stewardship based on solid science. He is an outstanding environmental science educator because he believes that teaching and learning in an environmental context enables students to gain an appreciation of the complex interactions that occur in nature. He designs instructional activities based on good science and motivates kids through real-world projects. His ongoing key community connections focused on salmon restoration, which included the planting of more than 18,000 trees and shrubs. He believes this is science education at its best because students are engaged in meaningful ways as they debate the evidence for their conclusions. Kredit teaches with enthusiasm, causing learning to be contagious, and his students become enthused as well. During the past three decades, he and his students have developed a strong presence for environmental education in their community and among his colleagues.
* * * * *
Shell Science Teaching Award
Sponsored by Shell Oil Company
This award recognizes one outstanding classroom science teacher (K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and community through exemplary classroom science teaching.
The two finalists receive travel expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference. In addition to travel expenses, the awardee receives a check for $10,000.
Janice Deese Ward
Jay M. Robinson Middle School
Charlotte, North Carolina
Janice Ward asks her students, “What do you need to create a self-sustaining world?” She has developed an outdoor classroom based on wetland that is located on school property. Student scientists enter the forest; research the bog water, flora and fauna, and soil; and emerge with their discoveries, which they record as data. Students are grouped into teams to build their own “world in a bottle,” which teaches them about the ecology of the wetlands and micro biota. Once research is complete, they collaborate to share information, develop hypotheses, and create a long- term scientific plan for their new worlds. While creating their world, students develop understanding of a wide array of concepts, including photosynthesis, nitrogen, scale drawings, and basic chemistry. As they complete each topic, they construct concept maps to depict their understanding of the concepts and their relationship to the environment. Ward plans to create an outdoor learning environment and nature diorama for students and the community at large.
Faye Kinard, Finalist
West Lauderdale High School
Faye Kinard believes her job is to make her chemistry and physics courses as meaningful as possible for her students. Her philosophy is that since students cannot see atoms and molecules, they need frequent experiences in the lab; therefore, it is impossible to teach any science without a strong laboratory component. Besides labs and demonstrations, Faye uses other important instructional strategies such as cooperative learning, lectures, and reading activities. During the first lab of each semester, her students mix baking soda, calcium chloride, and phenol red indicator in a sealed plastic bag. Students can feel the bag’s temperature change from cold to hot and observe how its color changes from red to yellow before filling with gas. After witnessing the reaction, her students develop an experiment to determine which chemical or combination of chemicals causes each reaction. She encourages students to demonstrate their science knowledge to the community and beyond by participating in local and state science fairs. Many of her students have gone on to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Glenda Pepin, Finalist
Susan Miller Dorsey High School
Los Angeles, California
Glenda Pepsin’s classroom exists in a finely-tuned state of controlled chaos. Students engage in many different activities, exploring and explaining things as they try to figure out the scientific world around them. She provides clear-cut goals and uses practical applications when possible. When studying the physics of waves, for example, students are asked to prepare a sound and light show, or design a maze using lasers and mirrors, or create their own musical instrument with an accompanying written explanation of how it is played. Pepin extends the classroom beyond its walls with field and camping trips designed to reinforce geology, water, and ecosystems concepts in an environment that removes students from the distractions of inner-city life. At the annual “Science in the Park” day, students participate in teaching/mentoring activities at local elementary schools; they teach a 20-minute lesson that allows them to exhibit their knowledge and expertise while affirming how much they have learned. This full-day event involves elementary students from as many as six schools who work at a series of stations completely planned, organized, and presented by the ninth graders.
* * * * *
Vernier Technology Awards
Sponsored by Vernier Software and Technology
This award recognizes the innovative use of data collection technology using a computer, graphing calculator, or other handheld in the science classroom.
Each awardee receives a check for $1,000 and $1,000 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference. In addition, the awardee receives $1,000 in Vernier products.
Fifth-Grade Teacher/Science Curriculum and Assessment Committee Chairperson
Chamberlin Hill Intermediate School
Working in partnership with community organizations, area school districts, and local scientists, Wickerham has created the A.P.P.L.E. bus, a mobile science technology laboratory used to provide inquiry-based field studies to her community. A.P.P.L.E. stands for an Awesome, Practical, Powerful, Learning Experience. Starting in third grade, students use the A.P.P.L.E bus and data-collection technology to investigate various ecosystems at Van Buren State Park. While in the field, students observe, test, and analyze a meadow, forest, or water site. On the bus, they observe the organisms. The bus has prepared slides, reference keys, animal tracks, pelts, and etchings. The A.P.P.L.E. bus curricula include “pre-bus” activities, on-site field tests, specimen collection and observation, and follow-up data analysis. By providing instruction that emphasizes experimentation, documentation, observation, analysis, and application, the A.P.P.L.E. bus program helps teachers meet standards while allowing students to work as real scientists.
Sixth-Grade Science Teacher/Department Chair
New London Choice Middle School
New London, North Carolina
Jamie Mabry learned early in his career that teaching with technology, including computers, probe ware, and graphing calculators, can positively impact student attitudes and achievement, especially those of at-risk students. He provides students with activities using technology that build their awareness of issues affecting Stanly County, the predominately farming community where he resides. Mabry uses an activity called Soil on the Horizon to build students’ understanding of the responsibility the residents have in caring for the soil for future generations. In the activity, students bring in soil samples from throughout the county and use pH sensors to measure soil pH as an indicator of soil fertility. Once they have completed their analysis, Mabry’s students present their findings to a Stanly County Soil and Water Conservation Board committee, enabling students to play an active role in the community.
High School Level
AP Biology Teacher
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
Heidi Anderson has learned that incorporating data-collection technology in her class encourages students to ask relevant questions, design appropriate tests, and use suitable tools to enhance their study of biology. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Kentucky, Heidi has developed an inquiry-based activity that uses an EKG sensor connected to wires inserted under the dorsal carapace of a crayfish to monitor its heart rate. Students design experiments to investigate variations in heart rate caused by environmental changes, such as depth of water, temperature, exposure to air, exercise, and social response. By allowing students to design and conduct experiments, Anderson believes her students will have a better understanding of experimental design and improve their ability to evaluate, question, and develop research protocol, all while learning to assess their own progress.
Big Sky High School
David Jones has developed inquiry labs that use computers and data-collection technology, giving his students the opportunity to discover concepts and their applications in a meaningful way. With help from colleagues from the University of Montana, Jones created a research project, Air Toxics Under the Big Sky, in which his students seek a link between incidence of asthma and the levels of different groups of air pollutants, particularly during times of severe temperature inversion. Students collect and analyze global positioning data and air samples from outside and inside their homes. They collaborate with scientists from the university’s Department of Chemistry, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and the Missoula City and County Health Departments to interpret their data and relate their findings to real-world applications. This gives his students a better understanding of the scientific process and the role of science in society.
Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School
Stephen Potashnik believes that using technology develops students’ critical-thinking skills, enabling them to move beyond textbook problems to confront real-world situations. His rocketry lab is just one example of how he connects science and math to the real world. In this lab, students work in small groups using model rockets they construct from kits. Before launching the rockets, students mount the rocket engines horizontally on a dynamics system cart and measure the engine thrust. They analyze thrust data using numerical integration techniques to predict the maximum height their rockets will attain; these results are compared to an actual launch. Students investigate discrepancies between predicted and actual results using rocket simulation software modeling air drag. Potashnik’s students use this experience to build student interest in state and national competitions, such as the Team America Rocket Challenge.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Though building interest in science, developing critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and supporting independent and responsible thinkers are goals of every introductory science course, attaining these goals can be especially challenging in classes with large enrollments. To meet these goals in her introductory physics classes, Marina Milner-Bolotin uses software and a digital video camera to carefully record data during lecture demonstrations. Following the lecture, students access the data from the web for further analysis, allowing them time to work with the data to develop a deeper understanding and uncover misconceptions. During the subsequent lecture, students submit the results of their analysis using a classroom response system, and Milner-Bolotin provides feedback. Her approach capitalizes on the appeal of traditional “show-and-tell” demonstrations, turning them into interactive learning experiments that can positively impact student success.
* * * * *
VSP Vision of Science Award
Sponsored by VSP
This award recognizes one classroom science teacher (K–8) whose creative, innovative science lessons develop an understanding of eye health and vision.
The winning school receives a check for $3,000 to be used toward furthering the study, teaching, and learning of eye vision and health. The teacher receives a check for $2,000 and $500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference.
Garner Middle School
San Antonio, Texas
Sandra Geisbush started The Eyes of Texas program when it became increasingly evident that several students needed help with their vision. Students learn about the eyes and vision, explore ways to keep eyes safe and healthy, discover resources for those in need, and launch a public awareness and vision outreach campaign that shares what they learned. At first, students collect examples of different eye expressions, including their own. They then focus on their logo, which features the star of Texas and on each point a theme to be studied, researched, and explored. The first point of the star represents the role of science, including anatomy, eye connection, and the importance that light plays. The second point involves researching conditions of the eye, including congenital conditions and heart disease; students also look at nutrition and the important role it plays in eye health. The third point represents activities, as students explore the effects of the extended use of computers and the strain it may cause. The final star point stands for the environment and how sunlight and pollution affect eye care.