National Science Foundation
image of Ms. MaryLu Hutchins
MaryLu Hutchins

K-6 Science
Wheeling, WV
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.
MaryLu Hutchins stated that the most satisfying lab she teaches is on dirt. Her students predict what might be found in a sample of local soil; examine a sample; and then make individual compost bags using red worms with a collection of soils, rocks, wood, and leaves to produce their own soil samples. Hutchins said, “The wonder and awe of natural science is evident in their faces as they independently conduct true scientific investigations and write reports detailing their findings.”
One of the obstacles to teaching process skills is that students frequently want to change their original prediction to match their results. The challenge for me is to organize and encourage repeated trials, while adding new variables, so that students become willing to learn from mistakes rather than hide from them. The real learning comes as students adjust each new hypothesis based on prior misinformation.
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