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Awards and Recognition Program

The annual NSTA Awards and Recognition Program recognizes exceptional and innovative science educators. The program was created to raise awareness and exposure of the outstanding work being done in the science education field.

The applications are now closed for the 2019–2020 award cycle. Thank you for participating in the teacher awards and recognition program.

The NSTA Teacher Awards and Recognition recipients will be notified by February 3, 2020, and will be honored during our annual dinner gala at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education.

The NSTA Awards and Recognition Program is sponsored in part by Bio-Rad, Corteva, Northrop Grumman Foundation, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Shell, Vernier Software & Technology. Sponsorships for the NSTA Awards help support the science educators and their science educational programs, professional development and proactive efforts in the science education field.

For more information contact Amanda Upton, the NSTA Awards and Recognition Program liaison, at 703.312.9217 or awards@nsta.org.

movie icon Archive of awardee videos

Congratulations to the winners of 2020 NSTA Teacher Awards!


online icon Archived Web Seminar: Developing a Competitive Teacher Award Application
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online icon Archived Web Seminar: Developing a Competitive Application for the Shell Science Teaching Award
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Angela Award

This award honors one female student in grades 5–8, who is involved in or has a strong connection to science. The award has been established in honor of Gerry Wheeler, Executive Director Emeritus, and his outstanding dedication to NSTA and lifelong commitment to science education.

Eligibility: Any female student in grades 5–8 who is a resident of the United States, US Territories, or Canada, and is enrolled in full time public, private, or home school. NSTA employees, NSTA Board and Council members, award judges, and their immediate families are NOT eligible to apply.
Award: $1,000 US EE Savings Bond or Canadian Savings Bond purchased for the equivalent issue price. The awardee will be honored at the Teacher Awards Banquet at NSTA's National Conference.

Corteva Agriscience Excellence in Agricultural Science Education Award

Corteva logoA partnership with Corteva and the National Science Teaching Association, this award is to recognize excellence and innovation in the field of agricultural science education.

Eligibility: This award is open to any K–12 science teacher who incorporates innovative agricultural science activities into their existing science curriculum.
Award: One award will be awarded annually. The awardee will receive a $2500 grant for their classroom/program, $1000 travel expenses to attend the NSTA national conference on science education, mentoring with a Corteva scientist, classroom resources from Corteva, and access to a Corteva product plant or research facility. The awardee will be presented the award at the Teacher Awards Banquet at the National Conference.

Distinguished Informal Science Education Awards

These awards honor NSTA members who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of science education in an informal or nontraditional school setting, such as a science-technology center, museum, or community science center.

Eligibility: NSTA members who are not classroom teachers and who have demonstrated their dedication to informal science education
Award: Formal citation, three nights’ hotel accommodation, and $500 towards expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference

Distinguished Service to Science Education Awards

These awards honor 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.

Eligibility: NSTA members who have shown long-term dedication to science education
Award: Formal citation, three nights’ hotel accommodation, and up to $500 towards expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference

Distinguished Teaching Awards

This award honors NSTA members who are teachers that have made extraordinary contributions to the field of science teaching.

Eligibility: K–college-level teachers
Award: Formal citation, three nights’ hotel accommodation, and $500 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference

Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers

The Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers provides selected K–12 teachers (up to 25) in their first five years of teaching with funds to attend the annual National Conference on Science Education. Award recipients will be mentored, tracked, and provided with continuing opportunities for meaningful involvement with NSTA and its activities.

Eligibility: To be eligible, a teacher must be within the first five years full-time at the time of application and be an NSTA member in good standing; to the extent possible, recipients must have been a student member of NSTA as a preservice teacher
Award: The award consists of up to $1,000 to be used to attend the annual National Conference; recipients will be invited to attend a variety of workshops and presentations that are of particular interest to new teachers at the annual National Conference

Archive of past conference sessions
Example of plan for attendance from past application
Read comments from Simmons Award winners

Ron Mardigian Memorial Bio-Rad Explorer Award

Bio-Rad logoThe Ron Mardigian Memorial Bio-Rad Explorer Award will recognize and reward an outstanding high school teacher who has made biotechnology learning accessible to the classroom. This award has been established in memory of Ron Mardigian, the inspiration behind and founder of the Biotechnology Explorer program.

Eligibility: High school
Award: The award will consist of $1,000 toward expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference and $2,500 in Bio-Rad products. The awardee will be honored at the Awards Banquet; the awardee and one teacher guest of the awardee will be invited to dinner with members of Bio-Rad's Explorer team.

Example of narrative from past application

Ben Johnston, 2017 Ron Mardigian Biotechnology Award winner, has been working on an AP Environmental Science reader, and now works at the Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, teaching a Biotech Academy to local high school students hand selected by each local school. He writes: "Thanks to this award, I will be able to purchase equipment to expand our DNA Barcoding Project. A genetics teacher at BJHS wants to incorporate her lower-level genetics students into the project. I'm very excited about it."

Northrop Grumman Foundation Excellence in Engineering Education Award

Northrop Grumman logoA partnership with Northrop Grumman Foundation and the National Science Teaching Association, this award is to recognize excellence in the field of engineering education. NSTA and the Northrop Grumman Foundation recognize the importance of integrating high-quality engineering instruction into the science classroom and the critical need for making students proficient in the practices used by engineers in the field. See the NSTA Position Statement on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Section II Conceptual Shifts in the NGSS. One award will be awarded annually.

Eligibility: The applicant must be a K–12 public school science/technology teacher. Individuals must have a minimum of 3 years' teaching experience. Awardees will have exhibited excellence in engineering science education.
Award: The award consists of $5000 for classroom materials and equipment, a cash prize of $3000, and $2000 to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. The awardee will be presented the award at the Teacher Awards Banquet at the National Conference.

NSTA Fellow Award

This award recognizes NSTA members who have made extraordinary contributions to science education through personal commitment to education, specifically science teaching or science; educational endeavors and original work that position recipients as exemplary leaders in their field; significant contributions to the profession that reflect dedication to NSTA as well the entire educational community.

Eligibility: This award is open to longstanding (at least 10 years) NSTA members
Award: Awardees will be recognized at the NSTA Awards Banquet in conjunction with the NSTA National Conference and receive one night's lodging.

movie icon Watch a video of the 2019 awardee

NSTA Legacy Award

This NSTA award posthumously recognizes long-standing members of NSTA for significant lifelong service to NSTA and contributions to science education.

Eligibility: This award is open to long-standing members of NSTA (minimum 15 years) who have been deceased for no more than 10 years; an individual may be nominated within ten (10) years after their death; however, there may be variances to these criteria; the NSTA Awards and Recognitions Committee should be consulted in writing prior to recommending an individual more than ten (10) years after their death
Award: One or more individuals may be selected by the NSTA Awards and Recognitions Committee to be honored at the annual Awards Banquet during the NSTA National Conference; a plaque will be presented to the family of the honoree; NSTA will provide two nights' lodging, and up to $500 towards travel expenses for a family member to attend the NSTA National Conference; a permanent Legacy Award display, located at the NSTA headquarters, will include the honoree’s name.

Robert E. Yager Exemplary Teaching Award

The Robert E. Yager Exemplary Teaching Award will recognize six (6) full-time K–12 teachers of science who successfully use innovation and excellence in their classroom.

Eligibility: K–12 science teachers residing in NSTA's districts.
Award: $1,000 towards expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education, and $1,000 for the awardee. Six awardees will be selected annually. They will present at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. The awardees will be invited to attend and present at their grade band share-a-thon at the National Conference, attend the district director meet-and-greet, attend and participate in their NSTA District Director Leadership retreat. The awardee will be presented the award at the Teacher Awards Banquet at the National Conference.

Robert H. Carleton Award

This is the most prestigious award an NSTA member can 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.

Eligibility: NSTA members who are K–college-level science educators
Award: $5,000, a formal citation, and an all-expenses-paid trip to NSTA's National Conference

movie icon Watch a video of the 2017 awardee

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year

SeaWorld logoThe SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Environmental Excellence Awards recognizes the outstanding efforts of students, teachers, and community leaders across the country who are working at the grass roots level to protect and preserve the environment.

Eligibility: The Environmental Excellence Awards has expanded its reach to larger audiences to recognize the efforts of schools, youth groups, individuals and companies working to make a difference.

Award: $10,000 and an expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference.

Shell Science Teaching Award

Shell logoThis 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.

Eligibility: K–12 classroom science teachers
Award: $10,000 and an all-expense paid trip to attend NSTA’s National Conference; two finalists will also receive all-expense-paid trips to the conference

Sample of teaching philosophy and instructional method

computer icon Archived web seminar: Developing a Competitive Application for the Shell Science Teaching Award (2016.12.07)

computer icon Archived web seminar: Developing a Competitive Application for the Shell Science Teaching Award (2014.10.15)

computer icon Archived web seminar: Developing a Competitive Application for the Shell Science Teaching Award (2012.09.26)

movie icon Get tips and recommendations from past Shell Science Teaching Award winners

Joel Truesdell writes:

My life since winning the 2017 Shell National Teachers Association Teacher of the Year Award has been even more exciting than usual. Winning the award has taken my dream of customizing the curriculum to the culture and world of each student to more of a reality. Our administration has offered me a position that would allow me to stay in the classroom while presenting and mentoring the science teachers on our three campuses, our pre-schools and Native Hawaiian School network of charter schools. In addition to this opportunity, I will continue to train public school teachers during weekends, fall and spring breaks and summers. I pretty much have Hawai`i covered!

But the impact goes far beyond Hawai`i. After the award was announced, I sent several of Page Keeley's books on formative assessment along with Laura Trout's book on Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) for High School Biology to the science teachers at Tuba City High School in Tuba City Arizona. The campus boarders the Navajo and Hopi reservation. After I presented on their campus last October, the teachers had mixed feelings about culture based instruction. After the news spread that I had won the award, the science teachers have embraced the method!

I plan to use some the $10,000 to return to Tuba City and put on a workshop that will include interested teachers from other Northern Arizona schools. The outreach extended beyond the United States when we used some of the money from to the award to travel to Eldoret, Kenya, to train teachers in a school for homeless street kids. We helped them adapt the very traditional lecture lessons into the culture of the students. It was incredibly rewarding to help this school transition into a dynamic educational institution. It will be an ongoing mission for a number of years. The most recent impact was during a presentation at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto, where I presented my methods to 100+ people from all over the world. When we got to the slide indicating that I had won the award, there was a thunderous ovation. Then Dr. Walter Kahumoku, who interviewed with the Shell Visiting Committee, got up to speak about the award and the impact that I am having on changing the teaching of the Hawaiian Youth, the result was another thundering ovation.

The Shell gift to indigenous science education is really just beginning since it has only been 4 months!

See also: Shell Science Lab Challenge »

Shell Urban Science Educators Development Award

Shell logoThis award provides support to seven diverse educators in pursuit of professional development, and serves to increase the science educator talent pool of minority educators to meet the education work force challenge of the future.

Eligibility: K–12 classroom science teachers in an urban setting. Classroom science teachers at the elementary, middle or high school level who are part of underrepresented ethnic groups are eligible
Award: $1,800 to be used to attend the annual NSTA National Conference on Science Education. Recipients will be invited to attend a variety of workshops and presentations that are of particular interest to urban teachers at the annual National Conference.

Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary School Teachers

This award honors one elementary school teacher who has established (or is establishing) an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based lesson plan. The lesson plan will fully reference sources of information and any relevant National Science Education Standards and benchmarks found in the Atlas of Science Literacy.

Eligibility: Elementary school teachers (grades K–6); applicants must be a full-time teacher with a minimum of five years of experience
Award: The award consists of $1,000 and up to $500 to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education; the recipient of the award will be honored during the Awards Banquet at the NSTA Conference

Example of narrative from past application
Read blog posts about Shugrue Award winners

Vernier Technology Awards

Vernier logoA partnership of Vernier Software & Technology and the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), this award recognizes the innovative use, or potential use, of data-collection technology (e.g. probes or sensors) interfacing with a computer, graphing calculator, or handheld in the science classroom. Seven awards will be presented in the following categories: one elementary (grades K–5) award; two middle level (grades 6–8) awards; three high school (grades 9–12) awards; and one college award.

Eligibility: Teachers of science in grades K–college classrooms, that reside in an NSTA district. Applicants may not have won previously at their school.
Award: The award consists of a $1,000 cash prize; $3,000 in Vernier products; and up to $1,500 towards expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. Awardees will be honored at the Awards Banquet during the NSTA conference.

Examples of abstracts from past applications: Elementary | Middle | High School | College

Technology Tips

L. Rene Corrales writes:

Attending the NSTA National Conference was a real winner for me as I got a chance to meet lots of highly skilled science teachers with whom I shared many resources. Additionally, I really enjoyed the different workshops—I made sure to go to all the Vernier sponsored workshops as it gave me a better handle on what digital technologies would fit best in my classroom—if only I could have all of them!

When I received my new digital equipment, I quickly pulled out an experiment that my students would enjoy learning not only new science but how to use digital technology. They were so excited that they could measure temperature or voltage and have it all collected into tables and even plotted for them. Their response was, "It's about time we get a chance to work with this type of modern equipment." It was as if their engagement and curiosity spiked from a modest interest to astounding. They got to spend more time thinking about the nuts and bolts of what the results meant instead of summarizing the data by hand into plots and so forth. In starting this new year, students are asking me on day one, when do we get to learn to use digital technology? The word got out fast!

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