NCTL Teachers Honored
May 31, 2010
Erik Russell, a fourth-grade teacher at Odyssey Elementary School, in Colorado Springs, has been named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. He coordinates Falcon School District 49's Engineering is Elementary (EiE) program and K-12 science, technology, engineering and math initiative. He has worked for five years to form partnerships between the district and science-related corporations and institutions such as the Museum of Science. He is one of 20 educators nationwide who will spend September through July, 2011, working in public policy with the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.
Cheryl Sanderson, third-grade teacher at Summer Street Elementary School in Lynnfield, Mass., has received a $10,000 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence. She explains, "I hated science as a child and wanted to change that as a teacher." In 2007, she discovered how while teaching students an EiE lesson, created by the NCTL: "When I involve my kids in engineering activities that apply their science knowledge to hands-on challenges, I bring science to life."
Sanderson is one of four Massachusetts teachers and 30 others across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada to receive $5,000 for her school and $5,000 for her own use from Amgen, a California-based biotechnology company. Sanderson plans to use the school award to buy more Engineering is Elementary units so all her school's 480-plus fourth graders and teachers can experience the curriculum.
"I wish I'd had Engineering is Elementary as a kid," says Sanderson. "My students love it." She uses the Museum's curriculum as the real-world application of science kits developed by the National Science Resource Center. EiE integrates engineering with science, language arts, social studies, and math via engaging storybooks about children from different countries and hands-on design activities. After reading about a child who uses engineering to solve a problem, students work in teams using their own science knowledge, problem-solving skills, and creativity to solve a similar challenge.
The Museum's curriculum "has made me a better teacher," says Sanderson, who's taught and tested four EiE lessons and will test another soon. Students "discover it's okay to fail and try again, using what they've learned like real engineers." Assessments reveal that her students understand science and technology applications they will carry and build upon throughout their educational endeavors.
Sanderson earned her B.S. in elementary education from Salem State and her master's from Cambridge College, "There's nothing better than seeing a student really excited about learning and hearing from parents, 'I don't know what you did but my kid loves engineering.'"