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Scientific Innovation Stands Out With 2012 Vernier/NSTA Technology Award Winners

Eight science educators recognized for their use of data-collection technology to promote STEM education

BEAVERTON, OR – April 12, 2012 – The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Vernier Software & Technology recognized eight science educators with 2012 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards at this year’s National Science Teacher Association’s conference. Ranging from elementary school teachers to college instructors, these winners were selected by an NSTA-appointed panel of experts for their innovative data-collection experiments and programs.

Each of the winners – coming from one elementary school, two middle schools, three high schools, and one college – received $1,000 in Vernier products, $1,000 in cash, and up to $1,000 toward expenses to attend the annual NSTA national conference. They were formally recognized during the convention’s NSTA Awards Banquet on March 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, IN.

“Engaging students in hands-on, real-world activities is key to fostering an ongoing interest in STEM education,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “From the creation of a walking robot to the study of ultraviolet light on living organisms, this year’s award winners actively involved students in the data-collection and scientific experimentation process through innovative investigations.”

Category: Elementary
Zoe Jorgensen, A.H. Bush Elementary Magnet School, Idaho Falls, ID
When the Idaho National Laboratory needed a year of wind-speed data to establish the viability of the installation of a small wind turbine, elementary teacher Zoe Jorgensen used the opportunity to have students conduct a real-world science investigation. Vernier technology was used to collect data that was presented to the school board and the Idaho National Laboratory.

Category: Middle School
Shannon Hudson, Tuttle Middle School, Crawfordsville, IN
Hudson used the vast history of her school’s soil to conduct interdisciplinary experiments. Her school sits on a hill that was once a tropical ocean, a deciduous forest, and crop fields. Students used Vernier equipment to conduct various soil experiments over a period of months and compared data to explain their results.

Christopher Widmaier, World of Inquiry High School, Rochester, NY
Widmaier’s students used probeware to complete an investigation of varying light levels in different environments. They will use this data to help understand the influence of ultraviolet light on living organisms and human skin color.

Category: High School
Jackie Bondell and Ershela Sims, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, NC
As colleagues and co-recipients of this award, both Bondell and Sims use data collection with their students to encourage an ongoing interest in STEM education. Bondell’s physics and robotics classes teamed together and designed a walking robot. The successful program is being adapted into a teacher workshop as a model of an applied STEM activity for other classes.

Sims created a project for her mechanical engineering students in which they designed and built a mousetrap car that could travel up a ramp and land upright on a set target. Using data-collection technology, including Vernier’s Dual-Range Force and Motion sensors, students learned kinematics and energy concepts, as well as Hooke’s law.

Sharla Dowding Ed. D, Newcastle High School, Newcastle, WY
Encouraging her students to think inquisitively about what they eat, Dowding has her students use Vernier technology to conduct investigations such as finding the food coloring concentration in Fruit Loops®, the concentration of color in Kool-Aid solutions, and the amount of sugar in soda.

John Louis Gensic, New Prairie High School, New Carlisle, IN
Gensic’s students conducted experiments on well water feared to be contaminated by septic systems and over-fertilized farm land. Understanding well water quality helps these students understand their surrounding resources.

Category: College
Venkatesh Gopal, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL
Gopal’s project will be to build an audio-frequency working model of phased-array radar as a striking demonstration of time reversal in optics and acoustics. The project will be used in an upper-level course on modern optics.

To learn more about the Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards and to find details for the 2013 application, go to: http://www.vernier.com/grants/nsta/.

About Vernier Software & Technology
Vernier Software & Technology has been a leading innovator of scientific data-collection technology for 31 years. Focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Vernier is dedicated to developing creative ways to teach and learn using hands-on science. Vernier creates easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, and graphing/analysis software. With world-wide distribution to over 130 countries, Vernier products are used by educators and students from elementary school to college. Vernier’s technology-based solutions enhance STEM education, increase learning, and build students’ critical thinking skills. Vernier’s business culture is grounded in Earth-friendly policies and practices, and the company provides a family-friendly workplace. For more information, visit www.vernier.com.
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