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
Christine Ward-Diaz’s students love using her Van de Graaff generator to observe the effects of static electricity. In class, they study the atom and its components, talk about the behavior of charged particles, and perform a variety of experiments with the generator. “Students enjoy this because they are able to see science in action,” said Ward-Diaz. She tries to make her class as hands-on as possible because she believes in “doing science, not reading about it.”
My students know that the process of discovery is about more than being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and that mistakes are okay to make. When we formulate hypotheses together in class, I often predict something I know will not happen. As a result, my students feel comfortable taking risks in the classroom. And I motivate my students by engaging them in a phenomena. Once their interest is captivated, we bring the science in and they are learning without even realizing it!