Nicole Shook, a science teacher at Bristol Central High School in Bristol, has been named a district winner in the Shell Science Lab Challenge, a competition for middle and high school science teachers. Sponsored by the Shell Oil Company and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the competition encouraged teachers (grades 6-12), who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources, to share their approaches for a chance to win a school science lab makeover support package valued at $20,000. Shook is one of 18 district winners named, from which five national finalists will be chosen, and from the national finalists a grand prize winner will be selected.
Nicole Shook’s role is to ensure students leave the classroom with tools necessary to become higher-level thinkers and informed citizens, said a press release for the challenge. Despite the lack of resources, students in her Title I school maintain a passion for science—Shook’s Anatomy and Physiology course has grown from 60 students in 2012 to 95 students, still operating on the same budget. She is unable to replace old equipment, update lab experiences, or introduce new inquiry-based learning opportunities. A lab upgrade would allow Shook to incorporate more inquiry-based learning opportunities, engage more students in the dissection process, and participate in rich, meaningful professional development to enhance her classroom.
To enter the Shell Science Lab Challenge, science teachers of grades 6-12 in the United States and Canada were asked to describe their school’s current laboratory resources, explain why the school’s laboratory facilities might be classified as “limited” resources, and describe their approach to science education instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities. A panel of science educators then reviewed and selected the top entries.
As a district winner, each teacher and their school will receive a $3,000 science lab prize package that includes:
$1,000 Shell grant to purchase lab equipment and other science education resources;
$1,000 in donated science lab equipment from Ward’s Science;
$300 gift certificate to the NSTA Science Store;
One year NSTA membership for two teachers;
NSTA Learning Center subscription for two teachers; and
Paid registration for two teachers to attend a 2016 NSTA Area Conference on Science Education.