California Science Teachers Association Awards Winners
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Award Winners

CSTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2014 Awards! Congratulations to Herbert Brunkhorst, Laurie Gillis, Chevron, and Water Education Foundation/California Project WET. CSTA will present these awards during the annual meeting of members to be held on Thursday, December 4, 2014, 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm, at the Long Beach Convention Center. This event will take place during the 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference on Science Education – in Collaboration with CSTA.

2014 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

Herbert Brunkhorst, recipient of
the 2014 Margaret Nicholson
Distinguished Service Award

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching.

Dr. Herb Brunkhorst has spent his professional life in science education. He started his career in Iowa where he taught high school biology and later worked as a science consultant for the Area Education Agency (comparable to California’s County Offices). After a decade in K-12 education Herb began his graduate education where he ultimately earned a Ph.D. in both science education and biology. At that point, his career shifted to the post-secondary level. He spent the bulk of his teaching career (~25 years) as a faculty member in the CSU system where he taught both science content classes (e.g. biology, bioethics, nature, and history of science) and education courses (e.g. research methods, elementary and secondary science methods classes).
Dr. Brunkhorst is an elected associate of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has written and peer reviewed numerous scholarly journal articles and presented at many conferences and professional meetings. Dr. Brunkhorst was described in the letters of support for his nomination as having a “warm, generous spirit that encourages new science educators to strive to improve science teaching and learning for future generations.”

Dr. Herbert Brunkhorst joins a distinguished list of California educators who have received this award, CSTA’s highest honor.

2014 CSTA Future Science Teacher Award:

Laurie Gillis, recipient of the
2014 Future Science Teacher

The CSTA Future Science Teacher Award recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching, and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. Laurie Gillis is one such exemplary person.

Ms. Gillis started life thinking she’d move into nursing but she soon learned that education was her calling. As a credential student at CSU Long Beach, Ms. Gillis proved eager to be involved in activities that supported her growth as a teacher, going above and beyond the credential program’s expectations. In her nomination letter, Ms. Gillis was described as a student who sought out professional learning opportunities beyond those available to her in the classroom. In her personal statement Ms. Gillis shared the following insight into her plans for her teaching future:

Once I am in my own classroom, one of my main goals is to become involved with or establish a program that assists and encourages young ladies to pursue science careers. I was well into my post-baccalaureate courses when a female professor was the first person to tell me I was a “natural” at science and encouraged me to pursue it as a career. It practically changed my identity. It helped me see potential in myself that I had never considered and it opened my mind up to career choices I had never entertained before. I want to give that experience to other young ladies. I want to help young women recognize their own potential in science and feel empowered to pursue it beyond high school.

Congratulations to Laurie Gillis and CSU Long Beach. For a listing of previous award recipients, please click here.

2014 CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award: Chevron and Water Education Foundation/California Project WET

The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award, honors an organization, institution, or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. This is a new award for CSTA and 2014 is its inaugural year. Up to two awards in this category can be presented in any given year.

Chevron has been a longtime supporter of science education in California and the nation. Chevron has been a major supporter of CSTA’s California Science Education Conference for several years. Beyond their support of CSTA, though, they have been a major contributor and benefactor to science education efforts in California. Chevron’s El Segundo Refinery recently provided a series of grants totaling $1 million to be distributed among 15 schools in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. In addition, Chevron has already contributed more than $14 million via Donors Choose for STEM proposals in 10 states, including California (support that goes directly to classrooms). They support teacher grants in states where they have facilities.

Chevron was a major financial supporter of Achieve and the development of Next Generation Science Standards. They continue to support Achieve’s efforts by sponsoring the NGSS Lead State Leadership conference (a contingent from California has participated in these meetings). In addition to providing financial support for the development of NGSS, Chevron officials testified in Sacramento at the State Board of Education meetings in support of NGSS and the adoption of new standards. They continue to be a strong business advocates for STEM education in California. While they certainly have lots to gain by California graduating STEM prepared citizens, they are not passive bystanders, hoping that the state makes good decisions. They write letters, show up to testify, and financially support programs that will positively impact science education in the state (and nation). They are a 100Kin10! partner with a commitment to fund partnerships that prepare, retain, develop, and motivate STEM professionals to effectively engage students in engineering design and to support implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards in the classroom.

Under the guidance of Brian Brown, the state coordinator for California Project WET, the Water Education Foundation has provided an excellent resource for promoting science education in California. The Project WET curriculum guide includes almost 600 pages of detailed lesson plans and background information. On the Water Education Foundation’s website, teachers can find correlations to state science standards and the California Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum, making the guide a useful tool for covering standards in the classroom.
The Water Education Foundation shares the Project WET curriculum with teachers through local workshops. The workshops are designed to introduce this award-winning curriculum through a hands-on experience. The workshops demonstrate how to the use of the materials and make it as easy as possible for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum. The Water Education Foundation works with facilitators throughout the state to coordinate approximately 50-60 workshops per year with over 1,000 classroom teachers and informal educators. The Water Education Foundation works tirelessly to find funding sources to help local facilitators provide free or low cost workshops to educators.

As this is the first year CSTA has awarded the Distinguished Contributions Award there are no past recipients. The nomination period for the 2015 awards cycle will open in January 2015. Only members are allowed to submit nominations. If you are interested in submitting a nomination you are encouraged to renew or maintain your membership in CSTA.

Congratulations once again to Herbert Brunkhorst, Laurie Gillis, Chevron, and Water Education Foundation/California Project WET. We look forward to seeing you in Long Beach in December.