Two Mobile County Public Schools teachers are among 39 science teachers nationwide to receive substantial grants as regional winners in the inaugural year of the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge.
Mary G. Montgomery’s Sonya Scott received $15,000 to use on curriculum support, lab equipment and materials as a regional high school winner and Hutchens Elementary’s Julie Neidhardt received $10,000 as a regional elementary winner. Both teachers will also have access to other professional development opportunities, as well.
Sponsored by Shell Oil Company and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the competition rewarded K-12 teachers who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources. The teachers, from select school districts near Shell facilities and assets, made videos illustrating these methods and the best were selected as regional winners.
“Science is something that is near and dear to our hearts,” said Tammy Little, general manager of Shell’s Mobile refinery. “You are all teachers who are out there trying to spark that interest, that love and desire to pursue science. We need more scientists as we see we have lots of challenges that face our society.
“Science degrees and math degrees offer you the opportunity to have a great quality of life,” she added. “These are degrees that pay a significant amount of money when you graduate. Today, right now, engineers – mechanical and chemical engineers – when they start out with a four-year degree, they’re making $80,000-plus a year. They provide great opportunity to you, but in return you provide a great opportunity to help our society further advance and grow.”
Scott said the lab experiments she featured included one using baking soda and vinegar to illustrate the conservation of mass. The grant will help her students expand the scope of their experiments.
“Now instead of just doing what we call qualitative, we can actually do quantitative,” she said. “We can actually get quantitative data … we can actually graph those things.”
The regional winners now advance to the national phase of the competition, where they will have a chance to win an additional $5,000 and attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in St. Louis next April.