ARLINGTON, Va.—March 30, 2023—The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) announced the recipients of its 2023 “Distinguished” Awards: Distinguished Service to Science Education Award, Distinguished Teaching Award, and Distinguished Informal Science Education Award. NSTA annually recognizes extraordinary K–12 teachers, professors, principals, and science educators for their outstanding achievements in science education. The educators received their awards during a special evening celebration at NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 24.
“Congratulations to all of the outstanding NSTA award winners. NSTA Teacher Awards are one of the highest honors any educator can receive. We are extremely proud of the work these incredible educators have accomplished. Each one of them is an exemplary role model for their colleagues and an inspiration for their students,” said NSTA President Elizabeth Mulkerrin.
NSTA presented its Distinguished Service to Science Education Award to Heidi Schweingruber, Director of the Board on Science Education of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), in Washington, D.C. 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.
As a study co-director for A Framework for K–12 Science Education—which served as the blueprint for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—Schweingruber has been critical in deepening the research base for science teaching, assessment, professional development, three-dimensional standards implementation, instructional materials, and English language learners in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). She has established herself as one of the most influential scholars spanning formal and informal K–16 STEM education. In her work at NASEM, she continues to develop collaborations across divisions within the Academies and with outside science education associations, including NSTA, the National Science Education Leadership Association, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the Council of State Science Supervisors, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her vision has influenced federal legislation, provided guidance to federal agencies involved in STEM and science education, and shaped grant proposals from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.
Kenneth Huff, a science teacher at Mill Middle School in Williamsville, New York, received NSTA’s Distinguished Teaching Award. This award recognizes NSTA members who are classroom teachers at the elementary, middle school, high school, and undergraduate levels who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of science teaching.
Huff’s longstanding commitment to the NSTA mission includes authoring the association’s publications, chairing NSTA committees, serving as an NSTA/National Council of Teachers of Mathematics STEM Teacher Ambassador and on the NSTA Board of Directors, and presenting at NSTA conferences and at the National Congress on Science Education. As one of only 41 science educators identified from across the country to serve on the NGSS writing team, Huff has extensive experience with teaching the standards with fidelity. Outside his classroom, Huff works to ensure new generations of science teachers feel supported and empowered to implement best practices for equitable STEM student learning. This includes developing resources and professional learning programs to help colleagues nationwide understand how to implement the NGSS with diverse students, including multilingual learners. He has also served as co-chair of the NASEM-Teacher Advisory Council, as president of the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching, and as president of the Science Teachers Association of New York State.
Dana Wright, Informal Educator and Exhibit Specialist at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, received NSTA’s Distinguished Informal Science Education Award, which honors extraordinary contributions to the advancement of education in the sciences and science teaching in an informal or nontraditional school setting.
Wright nurtures the inherent curiosity of lifelong learners through fun and captivating learning experiences. By engaging with the public, collaborating with peers, and developing programming in informal science settings, Wright builds positive connections between learners and developments in all areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics; advocates for the notion that science is for everyone; inspires the next generation of scientists; and encourages youth to become information producers instead of just information consumers. In her work in the Office of Communications at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wright shares agency-wide NASA stories, goals, and objectives with the public. In a relatively brief amount of time, she has transformed and streamlined NASA informal science program offerings to increase the agency’s reach to national and international audiences so that learners of all ages can build positive connections with NASA’s people, missions, and research. In recognition of her efforts, she has received two Robert H. Goddard Team Awards for Exceptional Achievement for Outreach.
Each of these awardees received a formal citation, two nights’ hotel accommodations, and $500 toward expenses to attend the conference in Atlanta.
NSTA encourages science educators to apply for its 2024 Teacher Awards. Applications and information can be found at https://www.nsta.org/awards-and-recognition-program.
The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) is a vibrant community of 40,000 science educators and professionals committed to best practices in teaching science and its impact on student learning. NSTA offers high-quality science resources and continuous learning so that science educators grow professionally and excel in their career. For new and experienced teachers alike, the NSTA community offers the opportunity to network with like-minded peers at the national level, connect with mentors and leading researchers, and learn from the best in the field. For more information, visit www.nsta.org, or follow NSTA on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
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