National Shell Science Lab Challenge Announces 2019 Grand Prize Winner and National Finalists

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”” target=”_blank”gt;#NSTAlt;/agt;–Shell
Oil Company
and the National
Science Teachers Association
(NSTA) today announced the grand prize
winner and four national finalists in the seventh annual national 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.

“Students with access to a safe lab environment to inquire, explore,
construct, test and interpret observations are more likely to cultivate
skills that could motivate them to pursue science disciplines,” said Dr.
Frazier Wilson, Vice President Shell Oil Company Foundation and
Director, Workforce Development and Diversity Outreach. “The Shell
Science Lab Challenge provides school labs quality outcomes, especially
for science teachers who create innovative experiences for students
despite limited lab environments.”

“These science teachers have implemented truly remarkable science
programs, providing quality lab experiences for their students with very
little resources,” said Dr. David Evans, Executive Director, NSTA. “We
commend the winners of the NSTA Shell Science Lab Challenge for their
creativity, resourcefulness and commitment to their students.”

To enter the Shell Science Lab Challenge, 6–12 grade science teachers 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 instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities.
A panel of science educators reviewed and selected the top entries.

Grand Prize Winner

Betty Lewis, N.H. Pilate Middle School, Newton, Mississippi
current lab is a traditional classroom with desks and includes a limited
number of working microscopes, a small amount of glassware, and very few
other resources needed to operate a classroom lab properly. A laboratory
upgrade would support students with an environment that is conducive to
learning, where they can experience science by emulating the tasks of
scientists by participating in inquiry-based activities and science and
engineering practices. Lewis will use this grant as a platform to
generate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
in her district. She will collaborate with science, math and technology
teachers to create a STEM developmental plan to assess the needs of her
community. Then, Lewis will conduct research to gain knowledge about how
to implement a STEM program that will begin with kindergarten learners
and continue throughout high school and beyond to include
dual-enrollment students.

As the grand prize winner, Lewis received a science lab makeover support
package for her school valued at $20,000. The prize package includes:

  • $5,000 Shell cash grant to purchase science/lab equipment and science
    education resources;
  • $5,000 gift certificate outfitted by Carolina
    Biological Supply Company
    , to purchase science/lab equipment and
    science education resource books through their company;
  • $1,000 in NSTA prizes, including an NSTA science store gift
    certificate and NSTA conference registration, NSTA memberships and NSTA
    Learning Center
    subscriptions for two teachers; and
  • Expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA
    National Conference on Science Education
    , in St. Louis, Missouri,
    April 11-14, 2019.

National Finalists

Amanda Walker, University Academy Middle School, Panama City, Florida
teaching philosophy is that every student can learn and love science.
Her strategies include capitalizing on students’ innate curiosity, and
providing a safe space for them to explore questions in a collaborative,
supportive classroom structure. Her current lab facilities consist of
modular classrooms housed at the main campus building in Panama City,
Florida. These rooms lack running water, have no sinks, and did not come
with safe storage options for laboratory equipment. All of Walker’s
current equipment was salvaged from the old school building following
the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael. Walker plans to use the
funds to help make her school whole again. Funds will also be used to
further an awareness of STEM’s importance nationally, showing the
benefits of student engagement with and interaction of STEM principles
in their community specifically after catastrophic natural disasters.

Emily Cizmas, Lincoln Park High School, Lincoln Park, Michigan
believes that students should learn science by doing science, not by
receiving information secondhand. Whenever possible, she has students
conduct investigations, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions.
This approach to learning science mimics the work of real scientists and
addresses the three-dimensional nature of the Next Generation Science
(NGSS). Students not only learn the important
concepts of physical science, but also key skills that can be
transferred to other disciplines. The department shares two lab rooms,
but both labs are heavily deteriorated due to their age and the lack of
materials available. The NGSS require students to discover
important relationships for themselves through investigation. However,
fundamental concepts like Newton’s second law and conservation of
momentum cannot be discovered precisely without modern sensors.
Acquiring these sensors would allow Cizmas to advance from the
conceptual and simulation-based investigations to more quantitative

Amanda Kowalczyk, Hoech Middle School, St. Ann, Missouri
firmly believes that the energy level of the teacher is equivalent to
the learning level of the students. She loves doing small-group
instruction in class and tries to appeal to student interest as much as
possible. Only a fraction of the students in her building are able to
have an actual laboratory experience during their science classes. Most
classrooms that are used to teach science do not have the proper
equipment or materials needed to conduct labs. Because of this, science
teachers in standard classrooms have to either omit activities or do
them mainly as demonstrations. Adding another science lab in the
building would greatly improve the teaching and learning experience for

Naomi Smith, Marvin Camras Children’s Engineering School, Chicago,

Smith is committed to helping students think about
becoming future scientists and engineers by exposing them to a
modern-day way of learning science, integrating the science and
engineering practices defined by the NGSS. Her current science
lab facility consists of a regular classroom with minimal to no science
lab resources. Not having a proper science lab with the basic
necessities makes it extremely difficult for Smith and her students to
conduct science demonstrations/experiments. Having an updated laboratory
with proper tools and materials would ensure that Smith has enough time
to provide a quality learning experience for her students.

The four national finalists each received a science lab makeover support
package for their school valued at $8,500. The prize package includes:

  • $3,000 Shell cash grant to purchase science/lab equipment and science
    education resources;
  • $3,000 gift certificate outfitted by Carolina Biological Supply
    Company, to purchase science/lab equipment and science education
    resource books through their company;
  • $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
  • Expense-paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science

Recognizing that the laboratory experience is integral to science
education and that many schools, especially those 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

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA-based National
Science Teachers Association
is the largest professional
organization in the world promoting excellence in science teaching and
learning, preschool through college. NSTA’s membership includes
approximately 50,000 science teachers, science supervisors,
administrators, scientists, business 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 operations in more than
70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more
than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new
energy future.

FOR INQUIRIES CONTACT: Shell Oil Company Media Line 832-33-SHELL


Kate Falk, NSTA
(703) 312-9211
[email protected]

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