National Science Foundation
image of Ms. Elizabeth Geils
Elizabeth Geils

K-6 Science
Lake Wales, FL
2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching
Each year the President of the U.S. recognizes outstanding K-12 science and math teachers throughout the country. One math and one science educator is chosen from each state who exemplifies deep content knowledge combined with the ability to motivate students in science and math.
Elizabeth Geils says that students love learning new concepts, which is why her students find geology fascinating. “Although teaching and learning about geological processes like erosion can be difficult, my students, many of whom think of sand dunes as mountains, could do it for days,” she said. In the classroom, she focuses on providing her students quality science education and remains mindful of her students’ reactions to the subject matter. She explained, “My job is to turn their brains on and keep them running at full tilt the entire time they are with me.”
Whether I am teaching college or kindergarten, I have found that to be effective I have to start with what the students already know and then build from there. Trying to teach students about something that has no relation to their lives only results in them memorizing and forgetting. Accomplishing this often involves starting with an intriguing question. For example, when we learn about digestion I ask my students, ‘Why do you have to eat food?’ The obvious answer is, ‘Well, you’ll die if you don’t.’ But then I ask, ‘Why would you die?’ ‘What is your body doing with all that food anyway?’ ‘Why don’t you end up looking like a hamburger if that is all you eat?’ And then class begins.
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