East Bay elementary classrooms have been abuzz with the sounds of balloon rocket cars zooming across floors, index card towers toppling over on shake tables, and children gasping in amazement at the antics of ladybugs -- all in the name of science.
In recognition of their efforts to provide meaningful science learning experiences for their students, five East Bay elementary teachers have earned recognition as Exemplars of Excellence from Community Resources for Science. These educators, from West Contra Costa, Berkeley, and Oakland elementary schools were selected from among over 70 educators who earned Recognitions of Excellence in the CRS Science Super Star Challenge, documenting their work throughout the school year to provide their students with a range of opportunities to learn about their world through exploration.
This year's honorees, Cherene Fillingim-Selk, Cragmont Elementary, Berkeley; Ann Park and Aiko Keen, Bridges at Melrose Elementary, Oakland; Jessie Welcomer, Montalvin Manor Elementary, West Contra Costa; Constance Cobb-Zunino, Prescott Elementary, Oakland, were featured at the "It's Elementary" celebration marking CRS' 20 years of support for excellent science teaching and learning in East Bay elementary schools. The event took place March 16, 2017 from 6-9 pm at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.
"These teachers exemplify the ways in which a growing number of elementary school educators are transforming science and engineering teaching and learning in their classrooms," says CRS Executive Director Teresa Barnett. "They are embracing new ways of helping their students develop the skills to explore, think critically, and build deep understanding of natural phenomena like falling raindrops, swinging pendulums, and the amazing diversity of bugs and plants in their school yards."
The event celebrated all the "elements" CRS believes are essential to transforming science teaching and learning at the critical early years of students lives: teachers, scientist and engineer volunteers, and science education partners. For more info on the event, go to www.crscience.org/events/It'sElementary
The CRS Science Super Star Challenge is a carefully crafted set of best practices designed to encourage and celebrate teachers who exemplify Excellence in Elementary Science Teaching. Teachers "win" the Science Super Star Challenge by completing these practices, which include: leading their students in hands-on investigations, reading and writing about science topics, exploring science via field trips or in-class presentations, and participating in teacher professional development.
“Just by having this challenge I have been motivated to do more science” says 2nd grade OUSD teacher Aiko Keen.
"In addition to doing more science, teacher honorees have invited scientists into their classrooms, through the CRS Bay Area Scientists in Schools program." Says honoree Constance Cobb-Zunino, OUSD 3rd/4th grade teacher, “I have relied on CRS to engage my students with University students to not only engage in science but to talk about the education process of becoming a scientist.”
“Through the Science Super Star Challenge, every year my students get even more excited about science! The various resources, books, and prizes that CRS provides have not only helped me and my students feel recognized for being scientists but also motivates us to continue to do more science in the classroom. It's always a great program that makes my students feel happy and proud to be young scientists!” – Maria Motonaga, 1st Grade Teacher, Oakland Unified School District