Recognition and awards for science teaching in K-grade 6

Do elementary school teachers teach “real” science? Of course they do—reading just a few articles from Science and Children  is evidence of this rigorous teaching that builds on earlier experiences and is the foundation for later learning. Teachers of Kindergarten through Grade 2 are expected to, and do, teach science but they are underrepresented in the programs that recognize their expertise and successes.

PAEMST logoIf you know of, or are, an early elementary teacher who is exemplary in teaching science or mathematics, and meets the criteria listed below, nominate this teacher for the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The PAEMST website answers the question, “Why Apply?”

Recipients of the award receive the following:
• A certificate signed by the President of the United States.
• A paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
• A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
In addition to recognizing outstanding teaching in mathematics or science (including computer science), the program provides teachers with an opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation. This growing network of award-winning teachers serves as a vital resource for improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and keeping America globally competitive.

For teachers of K-6, the Nomination Deadline is April 1, 2014, and the Application Deadline is May 1, 2014.

PAEMST nomination notice PAEMST teachers applyWho is eligible?
The following are eligibility criteria for nominees. They must:
• Teach mathematics or science (including computer science) at the K-6th grade level in a public or private school.
• Hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
• Be a full-time employee of the school or school district as determined by state and district policies, and teach K-12 students at least 50% of the time.
• Have at least 5 years of full-time, K-12 mathematics or science (including computer science) teaching experience prior to the 2013-2014 academic school year.
• Teach in one of the 50 states or the four U.S. jurisdictions. The jurisdictions are Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Education Activity schools; and the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
• Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
• Not have received the PAEMST award at the national level in any prior competition or category.

This award is to recognize the “cream of the crop” teachers…..in other words, the outstanding top teachers. Don’t be reluctant to recognize your own excellence. Be inspired by 2010 recipients:

Lauren Tate, teacher in Washington, DC, who said, “Teaching is not only my profession, but my chosen vocation. I am a firm believer that fundamental concepts and skills are developed from infancy through the primary years. This award will recognize and support my continued efforts to supply my students with active, hands-on, student-centered inquiry, which is the core of good science education. I am also thrilled about the Presidential Award program events, which will expose me to even more innovative and effective teaching strategies.”

Lauren is now teaching PreK, age 3. She says, “I have a great Discovery (Science) Interest Area and I utilize my school’s Outdoor Classroom activities as much as possible.  My students garden once a month as well as learn to cook foods from the garden.  I continue to believe that experiential learning is best for children, no matter what the age. Early Childhood is a great place to demonstrate lessons for the NSF Presidential Award.  My recommendation is create lessons around a unit that makes real world connections for the students, with hands-on opportunities.”

Michelle Estrada, kindergarten teacher in Las Cruces, NM, who said, “Receiving the Presidential Award means that I am joining an elite group of science educators whose active membership is critical in promoting quality science teaching and learning. This award is truly an unimaginable dream come true. I teach because I love the challenge, the diversity, the mystery of what lies ahead each day, and most of all because I love working with young students. It has been an amazing opportunity to be recognized by doing what I have a passion for: teaching science.

Recently Michelle said that “winning the PAEMST award has provided me with the motivation and confidence to continue implementing a science-based Kindergarten classroom while simultaneously demonstrating to others the successful outcomes of my decisions. My hope is to inspire both my students and others to value Science education. I would highly encourage teachers to apply for this award because the mere process itself is a reflective journey that enlightens and re-energizes you as an educator. Furthermore, being chosen as one of the recipients of the PAEMST award will provide you with life-changing professional development experiences in Washington D.C. with other like-minded teaching professionals who value S.T.E.M. education.”

For teachers of K-6, the Nomination Deadline is April 1, 2014, and the Application Deadline is May 1, 2014.
Write or call a colleague today to share this information and plan to nominate yourself or another by April 1st.

(Updated 12/12/2013)

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