Last Updated: 08 March 2017 08 March 2017
Dorothy Marie Story, a science teacher at Whittier Middle School has been named a district winner in the Shell Science Lab Challenge, a competition for middle and high school science teachers. Sponsored by the Shell Oil Company and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the competition encouraged teachers (grades 6-12), 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 valued at $20,000. Story is one of 18 district winners named, from which five national finalists will be chosen, and from the national finalists a grand prize winner will be selected.
Dorothy Marie Story wants her students to investigate science topics that interest them so that they learn to love science and will continue to investigate science long after they leave her classroom. Her classroom lacks the environment with which to fully use the materials and practice proper safety practices. There is nowhere to lock up chemicals between classes, no flat surface to perform data collections on, no running water, nor enough outlets for students to use available technology. Funds would be spent on flat tables for students to work on, electrical outlets accessible to each team of students, a teacher presentation cart, and, if at all possible, running water. Most importantly, it would include safety materials that are required in all middle school science classrooms.
“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.”
“The talent, resourcefulness, and commitment shown by these teachers is inspiring,” said Dr. David Evans, Executive Director, NSTA. “These incredible educators have developed imaginative and innovative educational techniques with little funding and scarce resources, while continuing to motivate and provide high-quality lab experiences to their students. Congratulations to all of the district winners and best of luck in the next phase of the competition.”
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.
As a district winner, each teacher and their school will receive a $3,000 science lab prize package that includes:
• $1,000 Shell grant to purchase lab equipment and other science education resources;
• $1,000 in donated science lab equipment donated by Carolina Biological Supply Company;
• $300 gift certificate to the NSTA Science Store;
• One year NSTA membership for two teachers;
• NSTA Learning Center subscription for two teachers; and
• Paid registration for two teachers to attend a 2017 NSTA Area Conference on Science Education.
Recognizing that the laboratory experience is integral to science education and that many schools, especially schools in urban and rural areas, do not have the resources to invest in quality lab equipment, NSTA and Shell partnered on NSTA’s Shell Science Lab Challenge to bring much needed lab materials and resources to school districts nationwide and in Canada. Announcement of the national finalists and grand prize winners will be on Monday, March 20, 2017.