Glenallan Elementary School teacher Kristi Cameron has been named a finalist in the Presidential Award for Excellence and Science Teaching for 2000.
Cameron, a math/science support teacher, is a finalist in the elementary science category in Maryland. She will now be considered for a Presidential Award, the nation's highest honor for a K-12 science or math teacher, to be announced during the 2001-2002 school year.
"My goal is to have my students develop a lifetime interest in scientific discovery and to demonstrate the many ways science impacts upon their lives," said Cameron, who serves as a role model for K-5 teachers in implementing science and math instruction. "By creating an enjoyable learning climate and providing challenging activities, I strive to develop students who are independent thinkers."
One innovative learning climate is the Gatorville Outdoor Classroom. Under Cameron's direction, for the past two years, Glenallan students have designed and constructed the wetland environment at the school, funded with a $9,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She also developed and designed materials to be used in teaching different units of study for the various grade levels and coordinated a unified approach to using the Gatorville classroom.
The only finalist selected in the elementary science category for Maryland this year, Cameron will receive a $750 cash prize and the National Science Foundation State Finalist Award for Excellence in Science Teaching from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) at a May 23 reception in Baltimore. Each year, the MSDE selects up to three finalists, nominated by school districts throughout Maryland, in each of four award categories: elementary science, secondary science, elementary mathematics and secondary mathematics.
Her application also will be forwarded to the National Science Foundation, and a national panel of experts in education will select up to 216 national winners-one in each of the four categories in every state and extrastate jurisdiction for the United States. Presidential Award winners will be announced during the 2001-2002 school year.
Cameron joined MCPS in 1993 after receiving her degree in elementary education from Towson State University. She taught first grade and gifted and talented social studies at Takoma Park Elementary School before moving to Oak View Elementary School in 1995, where she taught math and science. At Glenallan Elementary School since 1998, she teaches K-5 math and science lessons as a math/science support teacher. She received a master's in technology for educators from Johns Hopkins University in 1999.
Among her numerous activities and training, Cameron participated last summer in the Howard Hughes Student Inquiry Project, a two-year commitment for science teachers to consult with peers and expert scientists on how to develop inquiry-based science units that incorporate state and national standards. One result was a unit she wrote on aquatic microorganisms, being implemented this spring.
Another activity arose from community and parental concern that the wetland pond might contribute to the spread of the West Nile virus. As a result of fifth graders' investigation into whether introducing mosquito fish to the wetland would reduce the mosquito population, the school will stock the wetland with the fish this spring.
Another program under way this spring is the "Bay Grasses in Classes" program, in which students are growing celery grass, which they will transplant to a Chesapeake Bay tributary to help benefit water quality of the Bay. Cameron also facilitiates Glenallan students' practice of recycling, saving energy and conserving water through the Conservation Club, which she supervises.
"The combination of instructional strategies that are implemented in my classroom produce students who are risk-takers and who feel valued as scientists," Cameron said. "The success they gain from practicing classroom concepts in real-life situations is one of the major factors that enable my students to be so confident."
The Presidential Awards program is administered by the National Science Foundation with assistance from the National Science Teachers Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.