Shell Science Lab Challenge Announces 2014 Grand Prize Winner and National Finalists

National Competition Honors Science Teachers for Developing Innovative Approaches to Providing Quality Lab Experiences to Students with Limited School Resources

ARLINGTON, Va.--()--Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association today announced the grand prize winner and four national finalists in the fourth annual Shell Science Lab Challenge. The competition encouraged teachers (grades 6-12) in the U.S. and Canada, 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 valued at $20,000.

“Inquiry-based learning and hands-on experimentation are key elements for encouraging student interest in science,” said Dr. Frazier Wilson, Vice President, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Manager, Social Investment. “The Shell Science Lab Challenge strives to support inquiry-based instructional practices of our science teachers and excite students about the wonders and possibilities of science through active learning that emphasizes questioning, data analysis, and critical thinking. Exemplary science teaching is more relevant when it occurs in a quality lab environment where science concepts can be explored by students.”

“There is nothing more gratifying than honoring outstanding science educators who demonstrate excellence, creativity and vision in science teaching,” said NSTA President Bill Badders. “We are extremely proud of the grand prize winner and national finalists of the Shell Science Lab Challenge and for their unwavering commitment to their students.”

To enter the Shell Science Lab Challenge, science teachers of grades 6-12 in the U.S. 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.

Grand Prize Winner – Candace Roy: Vanguard High School, Ocala, Fla. (District 5)

  • When entering Roy’s classroom, visitors immediately notice how creatively she uses inexpensive and homemade materials to illustrate concepts in biology. Her desire to provide her students with quality lab experiences is evidenced by the many grants she pursues and receives. In her classroom, Roy’s students assume the roles of real-life scientists as they learn to ask and answer scientific questions using materials and computers, as well as engage their classmates in active discussion and debate.

    Roy also constantly strives to further her professional development, going beyond what her district provides by attending workshops and programs around the country and forming relationships with teachers and professors with whom she shares knowledge and teaching strategies. She does all of this on her own time and using her own funds. She then makes herself available to her colleagues and shares her resources, time, and creativity to help them increase their knowledge and effectiveness in the classroom.

National Finalists – Andrew Arvin, Maria Barnett, Jeff Deussing, Sherry Hanlin, and Bonnie Taylor: Northeast High School, Philadelphia, Pa. (District 4)

  • Taylor and her team of talented, creative science teachers provide their students with high quality science education despite a very limited budget. These teachers continually search for new, innovative ways to teach their content areas and regard all of their students as both capable and deserving. They believe it is their responsibility to inspire students to desire to understand the world, to perceive it in a new way, and to respond to it in a way that results in a better future for all. With that in mind, they provide their students with as many opportunities for growth, self-reflection, and safe scientific exploration as possible.

National Finalist – Dennis Pevey: eStem Public Charter School, Little Rock, Ark. (District 7)

  • Though he must navigate many challenges when trying to update technology at his school, Pevey has succeeded in creating meaningful labs for his students. In his classes, his students are given engineering or design challenges that lead them to uncovering underlying scientific concepts. Pevey structures his teaching so that students are guided to design, create, critique, and report their findings. His instructional units are based on his many partnerships with community organizations and his research on applications of scientific concepts in the real world. These efforts have made his units authentic and have helped his students make connections to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

National Finalists – Laura Tenorio and Carla Tonrey: Taos Middle School, Taos, N.M. (District 13)

  • For nearly 40 years, students at Taos Middle School have been using skills they learned in the school’s science laboratories to earn scholarships and win jobs in competitive fields. However, the constant, heavy use of the labs has taken a toll on the facilities, which have had minimal upgrades since the 1980s.

    Tenorio and Tonrey prefer to limit the use of textbooks to background research, focusing on hands-on experiences instead. Students are urged to devise their own experiments to discover for themselves how and why things work. Older students work with the teachers to “pay it forward,” serving as role models for the younger students and reinforcing their own abilities. Unfortunately, due to the effects of age and use on the labs, the older students and teachers spend about an hour on daily lab maintenance like tightening outlets and spigots. However, some needs—such as a corroding fume hoods and failing refrigeration units—cannot be addressed through teacher and student labor.

    Tenorio and Tonrey hope to upgrade the laboratories to allow them to conduct updated labs, safely introducing their students to modern concepts in biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, and computer sciences and modeling.

National Finalist – Benjamin Magtutu: Delta High School, Delta, Colo. (District 14)

  • Magtutu’s lab has not been upgraded since it was created some 30 years ago. In this low-income, rural district, resources and funding are limited, so he borrows what equipment he can, sometimes making his own from supplies purchased with his own money. Despite this, he still refrains from many activities due to the lack of safety equipment such as a fume hood and emergency eye wash within the classroom. He employs creative strategies enabling his students to succeed despite outdated facilities and computer equipment, building a foundation for them to develop critical thinking skills and a knowledge base.

As the grand prize winner, Roy will receive a science lab makeover support package for her school valued at $20,000. The prize package includes an $8,000 Shell cash grant, $8,000 in donated lab equipment, $1,000 in NSTA prizes—to include an NSTA bookstore gift certificate and NSTA conference registrations, NSTA memberships and NSTA Learning Center subscriptions for two teachers—and an expense-paid trip for two teachers to attend the 2014 NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Boston next month.

The four national finalists will each receive a science lab makeover support package for their school valued at $8,500. The prize package includes a $3,000 Shell cash grant, $3,000 in donated lab equipment, $1,000 in NSTA prizes—to include an NSTA bookstore gift certificate and NSTA conference registrations, NSTA memberships and NSTA Learning Center subscriptions for two teachers—and an expense-paid trip for one teacher to attend the 2014 NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Boston.

Ward’s Science is also supporting the Shell Science Lab Challenge by providing equipment to the winners.

Recognizing that the laboratory experience is integral to science education and that many schools, especially schools in urban and rural areas, do not have the resources to invest in quality lab equipment, NSTA and Shell partnered on the Shell Science Lab Challenge to bring much needed lab materials and resources to school districts nationwide and in Canada.

For more information about the Challenge, visit the competition web site.

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership includes approximately 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

About Shell Oil Company

Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with 93,000 employees in more than 90 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs nearly 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future. Shell Oil Company is a leading oil and gas producer in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, a recognized pioneer in oil and gas exploration and production technology, and one of America’s leading oil and natural gas producers, gasoline and natural gas marketers, and petrochemical manufacturers.

FOR INQUIRIES CONTACT: Shell Oil Company Media Line +1 (713) 241- 4544

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Kate Falk, 703-312-9211

Release Summary

The grand prize winner and national finalists were selected for the 2014 Shell Science Lab Challenge.


Kate Falk, 703-312-9211