UNI confers Yager Exemplary Science and Mathematics Teaching Award

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Yager Exemplary Science and Mathematics Teaching Award, established from the Dr. Robert and Phyllis Yager Science Education Fund for Excellence, will recognize its annual awardees this spring.

The intent of the awards from the Yager Science Education Fund for Excellence Award is to recognize exemplary science and mathematics teaching by University of Northern Iowa graduates. It serves a key role in supporting UNI's leadership of the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership and reflects the importance of private support as part of UNI's current "Imagine the Impact" campaign.

This year's recipients are Shelly Bromwich, pre-K/kindergarten teacher at Malcom Price Lab School in Cedar Falls; Holly Hinkhouse, secondary school physical science, chemistry and physics teacher at Riverside High School in Oakland; Ben Olsen, sixth-grade teacher at North Cedar Elementary School in Voorhies; and Aaron Spurr, secondary school earth science and physics teacher at Malcom Price Lab School in Cedar Falls. They will meet with science and science education faculty on the UNI campus on Monday, April 25, and each will receive a $2,000 honorarium with the award.

Teachers are nominated by UNI science and math faculty members and are UNI graduates in at least their fifth year of teaching in a K through 12 classroom. Awardees are selected on the basis of teaching materials, nomination letters and student references. Nominees were asked to submit a video of their teaching and a supporting essay.

Bromwich graduated from UNI in 1992 with a B.A. in early childhood and elementary education and a M.A.E. in early childhood education in 1997. Her video highlights how she encourages her students to do "really good science" and "be a scientist" with hands-on activities and explorations. Additionally, she encourages her students to further understand shape and spatial arrangements by posing challenges for them.

Hinkhouse graduated from UNI in 2006 with a teaching B.A. in chemistry and is currently finishing an M.A. in science education. Her video illustrates how she fosters collaborative learning using multiple modes of technology, including Google docs, where students contribute to the same displayed research document and use digital-document cameras to share experimental data, SmartBoards to facilitate and record class discussion and YouTube videos to relate science to the students' everyday life.

Olsen graduated from UNI in 2000 with a teaching B.A. in elementary education with a minor in basic science (K through sixth grade) and an M.A. in elementary curriculum and instruction in 2006. His video featured an inquiry-based learning sequence leading the students to discover the mathematical constant pi. While his video illustrates Olsen's talents teaching math, as a sixth-grade teacher, he extends these qualities into science content as well.

Spurr graduated from UNI in 1989 with a teaching B.A. in earth science and an M.A. in science education in 1997 with emphases in earth science and physics. His video featured active class participation and discussion encouraging student-generated hypotheses about plate tectonics and seismic activity. This fosters curiosity in his students and motivates them to participate further.

Robert Yager, professor emeritus of science education in the College of Education at the University of Iowa where he taught for 50 years, received his B.A. in biology from UNI in 1950. Yager went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Iowa. His research interests have focused on student motivation and attitudes toward science. He currently works on the National Science Foundation-supported IMPPACT research effort studying the effectiveness of science teacher education programs. In addition, Yager received the UNI Alumni Achievement Award in 1982, and in 2008 was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from UNI.

For more information on this award, contact Dawn Del Carlo, associate professor in the UNI Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and science education, at 319-273-3296 or dawn.delcarlo@uni.edu.


Dawn Del Carlo, associate professor, UNI Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and science education, 319-273-3296, dawn.delcarlo@uni.edu

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728, stacey.christensen@uni.edu