Tiffany Scott saw so much more potential in the science lab at Luling Elementary School, and thanks to her own efforts and a boost from Shell, she and her fellow teachers can explore that potential with their students.
That’s because Scott was one of three St. Charles Parish teachers named regional winners of the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge, which gives science teachers grades K-12 the opportunity to share their approaches for a chance to win a school science lab makeover support package valued between $10,000 and $15,000.
Scott, Hahnville High School’s Tyler Dufrene and Lauren Waguespack of Harry Hurst Middle School each earned the recognition and the spoils that go along with it, each doing so by describing their approach to science education instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities and to explain why laboratory upgrade support was needed.
Scott said that the standards for science have changed and more hands-on work is being required in the classroom.
“I thought we had a lab that wasn’t really utilized to its full potential and that (upgrades) would empower our teachers to use it and enrich our science instruction,” Scott said.
Scott said one example of the improved curriculum involves learning about the growth of plants and how it truly works. She plans to order an aquatronic system for her classroom, an aquarium where fish will fertilize the water that’s feeding the plants her students are growing.
Another benefit for the three teachers chosen was the chance to participate in a STEM forum and receive training that came with their prize package.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Waguespack, a sixth grade teacher at Hurst. “I came back with so many tools and strategies to implement into our classroom.”
Waguespack said the upgrades and new tools afford the opportunity for students to explore and experiment before getting into a class lecture, which she believes heightens interest.
“They’re able to investigate and explore things first and draw their own conclusion before we discuss it in class,” Waguespack said.
Dufrene said the greatest challenge of a teacher is to meet the diverse learning needs of his students, and that the grant goes a long way to that goal.
“By implementing inquiry-based curriculum, my students are afforded the opportunity for active learning, intellectual engagement, creativity and personal accountability,” Dufrene said.
Shell Norco spokeswoman Rochelle Touchard said the program, created through a partnership with the National Science Teachers Association, was implemented and grants awarded to provide more robust and innovative science education for students.
“At Shell we believe that learning and innovation go hand in hand,” Touchard said. “By providing further resources, this challenge helps support innovation as well as foster student excitement about science at an early age.”