Friday, March 22, 2013

Idaho Teacher Wins National Science Lab Challenge



Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association announced an Idaho teacher is the grand prize winner of the third annual Shell Science Lab Challenge. Four national finalists also were named.

The competition encouraged teachers (grades 6-12) in the U.S. and Canada, who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources, to share their approaches for a chance to win a school science lab makeover valued at $20,000.

“Inquiry-based learning and hands-on experimentation are key elements for encouraging student interest in science,” said Dr. Frazier Wilson, Vice President, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Manager, Social Investment. “The Shell Science Lab Challenge strives to support inquiry-based instructional practices of our science teachers and excite students about the wonders and possibilities of science through active learning that emphasizes questioning, data analysis, and critical thinking. Exemplary science teaching is more relevant when it occurs in a quality lab environment where science concepts can be explored by students.”

“These science teachers have implemented some remarkable science programs, providing quality lab experiences for their students with few resources,” said Dr. David Evans, Executive Director, NSTA. “We commend the winner and national finalists of the Shell Science Lab Challenge for their creativity, resourcefulness and commitment to their students.” 

To enter the Shell Science Lab Challenge, science teachers of grades 6-12 in the U.S. and Canada were asked to describe their school’s current laboratory resources, explain why the school’s laboratory facilities might be classified as “limited” resources, and describe their approach to science education instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities. A panel of science educators then reviewed and selected the top entries.

Merrie Rampy of Highland High School in Craigmont was named the Grand Prize Winner.

Rampy’s principal says she has seen her “take our basic middle and high school science program and change it to a rigorous and exciting place for students to learn about all of the possibilities science has to offer…Other teachers have observed her excitement about her subject area and the improvements she wanted to bring to her program, and in turn, improve their own programs. Our high school has moved from ‘let's get these students to graduate' to ‘let’s ensure all of our students can reach their educational and life goals, including attending a four-year college…’ Our students believe it is cool to be a science nerd."

The only thing holding Rampy back from having an exceptional program is the antiquated science lab in her rural school. The lack of funding for quality equipment and materials has prevented students from experiencing the sophisticated labs that would prepare them for scientific careers. Despite the limitations, Rampy continues to provide high-quality learning experiences for her students.

Congratulations to Merrie Rampy!

As the grand prize winner, Rampy will receive a science lab makeover support package for her school valued at $20,000. The prize package includes an $8,000 Shell cash grant, $8,000 in donated lab equipment, $1,000 in NSTA prizes—to include an NSTA bookstore gift certificate and NSTA conference registrations, NSTA memberships and NSTA Learning Center subscriptions for two teachers—and an expense-paid trip for two teachers to attend the 2013 NSTA National Conference on Science Education in San Antonio next month.

For more information about the Challenge, visit the competition web site.

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