PAEMST Teachers, We Salute You!

On Wednesday, May 18, we got to be part of something special – 85 kindergarten through 6th grade science and mathematics teachers from all across the nation had come to Washington, DC to receive the 2010 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or PAEMST. These awards are the highest honors bestowed on teachers of mathematics and science in the United States. And we were asked to provide a live ship-to-shore broadcast between the scientists on our research vessel and these award-winning teachers.

We were honored.
For the second consecutive year, Deep Earth Academy, the education division of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), had been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present to the PAEMST recipients. Deep Earth Academy staff joined forces with former “School of Rock” participants to introduce these teachers to scientific ocean drilling and related curricular materials during a 90-minute presentation that was held at NSF on Wednesday.
Leslie Peart and her team at Deep Earth Academy were thrilled to be asked to participate in this event again. “It’s a wonderful way to share the important role the scientific research vessel JOIDES Resolution plays in Earth science research,” she explained, “and to show talented teachers how scientific ocean drilling can provide a dynamic introduction to teaching science, technology, engineering and math.”
The highlight of the session (at least for us!) was the live ship-to-shore broadcast. The broadcast began with one of our Co-Chief scientists, Benoit Ildefonse, giving teachers a virtual tour of our shipboard research labs…
[Outreach Officer Sarah Saunders films as Co-Chief Benoit Ildefonse provides a guided tour of the shipboard labs, while scientist Marie Python works nearby; photos by Bill Crawford]
Then, Benoit joined U.S. scientists Jeff Alt, Jeremy Deans, Jessica Till, and Doug Wilson in a Q&A session, where our scientists answered questions from the teachers about the geology, engineering, and planning aspects of IODP  Expedition 335, “Superfast Spreading Rate Crust 4.”
[PAEMST teachers ask scientists aboard the JR questions from NSF headquarters; photo by Kristin Ludwig]
[Scientists respond to teachers’ questions by satellite link from the JR; photo by Bill Crawford]
There were also many other people onboard who worked diligently behind the scenes to help make the event go smoothly. Everybody on the ship wanted to do their part to make sure the teachers had as positive and engaging an experience as possible.
Afterwards, Damon Teagle, our other Co-Chief, spoke with the scientists who participated in the broadcast, and he reports that they all enjoyed the event and found it a rewarding experience.  As Damon points out, “An event like this demonstrates the invaluable contribution that scientific ocean drilling can make to education and outreach efforts – helping the earth sciences to come alive for audiences of all ages.”
Back at the NSF, the PAEMST awardees were given samples of Deep Earth Academy’s teaching materials and encouraged to engage in scientific ocean drilling outreach activities in the future. Jennifer Collins, Deep Earth Academy’s Teacher and School Program Specialist, said she hopes they’re inspired to join future expeditions on the JOIDES Resolution as Education Officers or as School of Rock participants!
The PAEMST is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. Winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process conducted at the state level.  Each year the award alternates between kindergarten through 6th grade teachers and 7th through 12th grade teachers.  The 2010 awardees teach kindergarten through 6th grade. Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the NSF to be used at their discretion. The NSF administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. To learn more about the PAEMST program, visit http://www.paemst.org/.