Two Central Texas teachers won awards for being outstanding science teachers.
Teresa Kelm from Connally Elementary School was the overall winner and elementary school first-place winner of the 2017 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.
Mrs. Kelm teaches fifth-grade science at Connally Elementary. She said she won a $6,000 prize for the first place award and a $5,000 award for being the overall winner.
Kelm said she incorporates aspects of the science fiction media franchise Star Trek In her lessons. Kelm acts as their captain and calls her students "Starfleet Academy Cadets." She said during each unit of study, students receive a mission in the form of written communication, audio or video message. All of those missions relate to what they have been studying.
“I want to make science fun and engaging for students, to make it alive and applicable,” Kelm said.
In September, Kelm will receive $2,000 to use in the curriculum. She added she has also received a grant to build a school garden and outdoor classroom so the school grant will be used to supplement that.
Holly Land, a fourth-grade science teacher at South Bosque Elementary School in the Midway ISD, got third place in the elementary category.
Land said that came with $2,000 for her, and $1,000 dollars for the school, which she said she will put toward the new lab.
When Land found out, she said she could not hold in her excitement.
"Oh, I was overwhelmed. I ran up and down the halls screaming, 'I got third! I got third!' and then I found out I wasn't supposed to tell anyone so that was kind of embarrassing, but it's really a big deal," Land said. "This is essentially third place in the whole state of Texas, over 400 applicants. So to be recognized for my teaching at that level is mind-blowing, really."
Land teaches South Bosque’s state award-winning Destination Imagination Team and her classes run the South Bosque Weather Station. Land said what makes her so effective as a science teacher is her willingness to get silly and creative with her lesson plans. She said many times she gets her students engaged by making the lessons physical not just mental.
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