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Vernier, NSTA announce 2015 STEM award winners


Seven STEM educators awarded prizes valued at $5,500 each for their innovative use of data-collection technology in the classroom

STEM-technologySeven science and STEM educators—one elementary teacher, two middle school teachers, three high school teachers, and one college-level educator—have been chosen as the winners of Vernier Software & Technology and the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) annual Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards.

The winners were chosen by a panel of NSTA-appointed experts for their innovative use of data-collection technology with a computer, graphing calculator or other handheld device in the science classroom.

Each winner will be formally recognized at the 2015 NSTA National Conference in Chicago, IL on March 13, 2015 and will receive $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier products, and up to $1,500 toward expenses to attend the conference.

Next page: The winning educators

“The use of data collection in science and STEM classrooms can truly transform the teaching and learning processes,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and former physics teacher. “From investigating lichen growth to the analysis of water samples from a nearby watershed, this year’s Vernier/NSTA Technology Award winners show how the use of data collection provides engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation and discovery.”

This year’s Vernier/NSTA Technology Award winners include:

Category: Elementary School
Amy Atkinson, Hominy Valley Elementary School, Candler, N.C.
Amy Atkinson created a project that focuses on healthy lifestyle choices in diet, exercise and relaxation and culminates with a fourth grade health and wellness fair. As part of the project, students work with local health professionals to explore different facets of healthy living and use Vernier sensors to measure and collect real-time heart rate, blood pressure and respiration data.

Category: Middle School
Susan Brown, Northland Preparatory Academy, Flagstaff, Ariz.
To help students in grades 6–12 explore how climate change effects lichen growth and diversity, Susan Brown created a long-term research project in partnership with a local arboretum and Northern Arizona University. Her project utilizes gardens along an elevation gradient, as well as an on-site garden at the school. Students used Vernier sensors to collect weather-related data from the gardens and then make their own observations and draw their own inferences about climate change and its effects.

Dennis Pevey, Jr., eSTEM Public Charter School, Little Rock, Ark.
Dennis Pevey engages his students in science education by infusing STEM concepts into projects that focus on the environmental issues impacting central Arkansas. In one particular project, students will create biofiltration units for the school’s parking garage to help prevent the leaching of chemicals into the Arkansas River. They will use Ion-Selective Electrodes and SpectroVis spectrophotometers from Vernier to monitor and analyze the water samples over a three-month period.

Category: High School
Kristy Bibbey, Poudre High School, Fort Collins, Colo.
During a project that introduces the physics of sound, Kristy Bibbey’s physics students—as well as a local musician—bring in an instrument that they play and use the Vernier Microphone to record various wavelengths using the various instruments. The data are shown in real time on the classroom’s whiteboard so that students can analyze the data, recognize the properties of a wavelength and understand the inverse relationship between period and frequency.

Karlheinz Haas, The Pine School, Hobe Sound, Fla.
To help make kinematics and dynamics more accessible and relatable to students, Karlheinz Haas adapted a series of commonly used physics labs to incorporate the use of the TI-Nspire CX handheld in combination with Vernier sensors and DataQuest software. These labs include a marble activity that teaches students about horizontal velocity and an investigation involving echoes that teach students about the speed of sound.

Ann Shioji, William C. Overfelt High School, San Jose, Calif.
In Ann Shioji’s “Beauty and the Yeast” unit, students explore how chemicals affect their daily lives. At the beginning of the unit, students conduct preliminary research on the gestation period and respiration rates of yeast and then conduct a class investigation using a CO2 Gas Sensor to determine the rate of respiration of glucose by Saccharomyces to monitor a closed population of yeast. Then, students are provided the opportunity to design their own inquiry-based experiments to test the effects of chemicals on living yeast cells.

Category: College
Lois Zook-Gerdau, Muskingum University, New Concord, Ohio
Muskingum University partnered with the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District to assess the water quality in the nearby Salt Creek Watershed. They used Vernier sensors and spectrometers, which were instrumental in helping research students conduct a variety of analyses on these water samples. Through this partnership, students worked with local environmental professionals, and the community won a grant for conservation efforts based on the water quality assessments.

To learn more about the Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards and to find details for the 2016 application, visit http://www.vernier.com/grants/nsta/.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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