Four Big Walnut High School science teachers honored with Governors Thomas Edison Award
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Big Walnut High School principal Steve Fujii recently received a letter stating that four of his science teachers, Matt Wallschlaeger, Mike Smith, Nadine Adams and recently retired Wayne Moore, received a Governors Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in STEM Education.
The Governors Thomas Edison Award is supported by a grant to The Ohio Academy of Science from The Technology Division of the Ohio Department of Development.
First established under Gov. Celeste’s Administration in 1985 as the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Student Research, the name was changed to the Governor’s Thomas Edison Awards for Excellence in Student Research and in STEM Education to reflect the direct involvement of the Edison Technology Centers.
STEM Education is both the mastery and integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for all PK-12 students. It incorporates scientific inquiry and technological design through student-focused, project-based curricula to develop skills of communication, teamwork and collaboration, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving.
Wallschlaeger said 380 schools in Ohio applied for this year’s Governor’s Thomas Edison Award, but only teachers from 62 schools were selected.
“The criteria for the Governor’s Thomas Edison Awards requires a science fair for a number of consecutive years with 20 or more students participating, sending one or more of these students to one of the Academy’s 15 district science days, and participation in at least one more youth science opportunity beyond the classroom,” Wallschlaeger said. “Big Walnut has a Science Olympiad team, where students pursue scientific inquiry and receive awards for scientific investigation; and we also used Envirothon because it’s a science and knowledge based competition.”
Wallschlaeger said as part of the award application process Fujii wrote a letter listing members of the teaching team most responsible for student participation in STEM related activities, and included documentation of participation in the form of student participation and award certificates, photographs, press clippings, pages of local, district or State Science Day programs and copies of acceptance or confirmation letters for activities.
“I think what families should know about our science curriculum here at Big Walnut High School is that it’s collaborative and encourages hands-on, real-world scientific problem solving,” Fujii said. “Our students don’t just learn by reading out of a textbook. They become engaged by gathering data and monitoring projects.”
Fujii cited students involved in scientific inquiries that require as much, if not more, time outside the classroom than in the classroom, like Kyle Davis doing bird research with assistance from Ohio Wesleyan University ornithologist Dr. Edward Burtt, and Jesse Rines’ aquaculture research project located in the high school’s Ag Science Department.
“Students like Kyle and Jesse and others we have here are truly engaged in scientific inquiry,” Fujii said. “They’re not just learning facts, they’re answering questions and solving problems; they’re learning by doing.”
For additional information about the Ohio Academy of Science go to < ohiosci.org >.