MOUNT VERNON — A Jefferson Elementary School teacher has been honored for finding innovative ways to teach her science students.
Roberta Carlson, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher at the Mount Vernon school, has been named a regional winner in the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge.
Sponsored by Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teaching Association, the annual program recognizes about three dozen teachers who have found “innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources,” according to a news release.
“Roberta Carlson believes that students learn and retain new knowledge best when they are engaged in high-quality, hands-on investigations,” the release states. “As a teacher, she uncovers students’ misconceptions about core science ideas and designs authentic, real-world investigations that allow students to develop and use models that deepen their understanding of science concepts.”
Carlson was a fifth-grade teacher before becoming the school’s STEM teacher. The new role has been exciting.
“I’m really trying to revitalize our STEM program here,” Carlson told the Skagit Valley Herald. “Science and math have always been my favorite, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Carlson has previously given students hands-on learning experiences through the school’s garden. As the school’s STEM teacher, she is expanding on that with all students.
In the younger grades, first graders are learning about kinetic energy and will eventually design their own miniature golf tables, she said.
In the older grades, students will learn about kinetic energy by studying car crashes and seeing how far a car moves when it is struck by another, she said.
“Kids really need to experience what they’re learning in a hands-on way,” Carlson said.
With the honor came a school science lab makeover support package valued at $10,000. Carlson said she has used the money to buy science kits and items for engineering lessons, such as robotics kits and hydraulic arms.