Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) announced the grand prize winners in the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge. The competition encouraged K-12 teachers 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 support package.
“The science resources provide students access to safe lab equipment to support their inquisitive interests. Encouraging students to ask questions, explore, construct, test and interpret observations are important skills that may lead to them pursuing science disciplines,” said Dr. Frazier Wilson, Vice President Shell Oil Company Foundation and Director, Workforce Development Diversity Outreach. “The Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge equips schools’ labs to increase quality educational outcomes, especially for science teachers who create innovative experiences for students despite limited lab environments.”
To enter the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge, K-12 science teachers located in select school districts near Shell assets were asked to describe their school’s current laboratory resources, explain why laboratory upgrade support is needed, 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.
“We take tremendous pride in these educators who are at the forefront of developing innovative science instruction that is transforming the learning environment and enabling their students to receive the high quality lab experiences they deserve,” said Dr. David Evans, Executive Director, NSTA. “Congratulations to the grand prize winners for their hard work, resourcefulness, and commitment to their students.”
2019 Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge Grand Prize Winners
Elementary School Level: Julie Neidhardt, Hutchens Elementary School, Mobile, Alabama
As an educator for 20 years, Julie Neidhardt has taught many grade levels and subjects. Teaching science, however, has become her passion, seeking to ignite that spark for learning and see the light of discovery in a child’s eyes. Neidhardt has established the NEST (Nurturing Engineering, Science, and Technology) science lab where students come to experience hands-on, inquiry-based lessons. The NEST is unique because it is also a coaching model where teachers attend the science lab with their students to participate in job-embedded coaching to learn the Next Generation Science Standards and practice science instruction.
Middle School Level: Dawn Sevin, Lacache Middle School, Chauvin, Louisiana
Dawn Sevin’s students not only do science, but are also actively engaged in STEM concepts and activities. Her students build remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and test them, make modifications, and retest them at the local marine research facility. This activity is real-world because students live near the water—there is increasing concern over water quality and land loss along with the career opportunities in the area that relate to oceanography and exploration.
High School Level: Jaimie McQuarn, East Ascension High School, Gonzales, Louisiana
The philosophy of Jaimie McQuarn’s science department is that students learn best by engaging in inquiry and experimentation, rather than lecture and rote memorization. To improve her science lab, McQuarn used award funds to buy a set of digital microscopes and Carolina Inquiry kits. With the microscopes, students were motivated and engaged in several activities and participated in tactile and visual learning. Environmental science students also explored weathering and permeability with the use of a Carolina Inquiry kit. The Carolina Inquiry kits provide engaging lessons that can easily be connected to literacy, allowing students to become immersed in real-world science.
In addition to the school science lab makeover support package—valued at $10,000 (for the elementary and middle level winners) and $15,000 (for the high school level winner)—each grand prize winning teacher received an additional $5,000 of support to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in St. Louis, Missouri, April 11-14, 2019. The three grand prize winners and their principals will be honored at the Shell reception and Teachers Awards Gala, taking place during the conference.