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Exceptional Science Teachers Recognized with GIANTS Award

Written By onci on Friday, April 15, 2011 | 10:11 AM

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little – standing in for Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter – recognized the outstanding efforts of four Idaho science teachers today by presenting them with the 2011 GIANTS Award.

Kuna High School teacher DaNel Huggins; Dennis Kimberling of Lakeland Junior High School (Rathdrum); H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School (Shelley) and Canyon Elementary Science Magnet School (Cataldo) teacher Susan Hansen-Barber were awarded $2,000 each as recipients of the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in Science (GIANTS).

 “DaNel, Dennis, Mike, and Susan exemplify the innovation and initiative necessary to advance science and technology instruction for Idaho students,” Governor Otter said in a statement prepared for the award ceremony in his Capitol office. “They have shown how providing educational opportunities that connect their students with real-world applications can inspire students to lives spent in discovery, learning, and achievement We thank these outstanding educators for helping to prepare today’s students for the 21st century workforce.”

The GIANTS program was initiated by the Office of the Governor and is sponsored by the Science and Technology Roundtable, a group of industry leaders including the Micron Foundation, Idaho National Laboratory, URS, Hewlett-Packard, LCF Enterprises, and Idaho Power Company. With support from the State Department of Education and Office of the State Board of Education, as well as the Discovery Center of Idaho, GIANTS recognizes teachers for their efforts to link industry and the economic future of Idaho to the classroom through the enhancement of science and technology education.

Honorable Mention awards of $500 each were presented to two additional teachers: Steven Braun of Troy High School and Hayden Meadows Elementary teacher Mark Luhnow.

All the participating teachers were nominated by the student council and/or parent groups at their school for making science exciting, challenging, and relevant. A cash prize of $500 goes to each school/student council that nominated the GIANTS award recipients, with a cash prize of $100 going to each school/student council that nominated the Honorable Mention award recipients.

The GIANTS partners are firmly committed to the advancement of science and technology education and consider it vital to Idaho’s economic future. The Governor and the industry partners congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their significant contributions to education.

Here is more information on each of the award recipients:

Elementary School GIANTS Awardee:
The 2011 elementary school winner is Sue Hansen-Barber of Canyon Elementary Science Magnet School in Cataldo.  Ms. Hansen-Barber has been teaching for 27 years and currently teaches 4th and 5th graders at Canyon Elementary, while also serving as the principal.

In addition to a variety of guest speakers and fieldtrips, Ms. Hansen-Barber engages her students in hands-on learning through Science Fridays where all students move in groups, across grade levels to various hands-on activities where science is the main topic and integrated with other subjects.

In another ongoing collaborative program, she has partnered with an area Noxious Weed Management council for Canyon students to complete real field research on noxious weeds and report their findings back to the council.  In their letter of nomination, the Canyon Student Council noted, “She gives us challenges and not just the answers, so we learn how to do it on our own.”

Middle School GIANTS Awardees:
The GIANTS Middle School Awardees are Dennis Kimberling of Lakeland Jr. High (Rathdrum) and H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School (Shelley).

In Mr. Kimberling’s 24 years as a teacher he has provided science education, real world connections, and leadership, particularly within the gifted and talented program in his region. He has extended his leadership beyond the classroom with student organizations, middle and high school robotics teams, and high school science bowl teams.

In addition to the many field trips and FIRST robotics competitions lead by Mr. Kimberling, he is also closely connected with the North Idaho Discovery Association.  Through NIDA he works directly with students in camps, classrooms and provides robotics workshops throughout the summer for both students and teachers.

In nominating Mr. Kimberling, his student leadership team noted, “Mr. Kimberling uses many techniques and does many things that inspire students to want to learn more in-depth things about various fields in science such as electricity, pyrotechnics, electrical engineering, even working with robotics and hydrogen powered technology!”

The co-awardee for the Middle School GIANTS Award is H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School in Shelley. Mike has spent the past 30 years teaching a variety of science courses to a variety of students. He currently teaches science to gifted and talented students, 2nd -8th grades.

He has been very successful in developing community partnerships with business and industry experts. Projects include working with Lava Hot Springs to research if they could effectively use waste geo-thermal waters to raise tropical fish, resulting in the students overseeing the construction of test ponds, placing fish, and presenting the results after a year of research.  The Hobbs Middle School Student Council noted, “A lot of Mr. Winston’s students decide to take lots of science classes, but one of the neat things is that many students have started their own businesses.”

As a board member for the Idaho Education Alliance for Solutions, Mr. Winston has also been working on the development of a 20-acre educational facility known as the Bingham County Education Park to provide a facility and curriculum materials for area teachers, students, and families to enhance science education.

High School GIANTS Awardee:
The GIANTS High School Awardee is DaNel Huggins of Kuna High School. Ms. Huggins is the science chair at her school and teaches a wide variety of physics and chemistry classes, as well as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research course.

Ms. Huggins has inspired students both inside and outside of the classroom in programs such as FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, Team America Rocketry Competition, BSU Discover Engineering Day, Science Olympiad, INL Scholastic Tournament, Physics Day at Lagoon, and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell car races.

She works with universities as well as local companies to connect her students directly to the front lines of science. In her nomination letter, Principal Karla Reynolds said, “DaNel’s passion for her subject encompasses say more than just the classroom experience.  She encourages and supports students to compete in national science competitions, seeks opportunities for students to get to listen to and meet world renowned scientists as well as gives up her weekends to work with students on rocketing competitions and science day volunteering at local universities.”

Ms. Huggins also stands out as a leader at the state level, serving on the governing committee of the i-STEM teacher professional development initiative, helping create Idaho’s first STEM competition this year, and providing presentations and teacher workshops throughout Idaho and across the country through the National Energy Education Development Project.
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