President Obama's commitment to improving the Nation's education system, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math, can be seen in the wide array of events and initiatives the President has taken part in, including Astronomy Night at the White House, the launch of the Educate to Innovate campaign, and bringing science into this year's White House Easter Egg Roll.
However, the President's commitment can only be the beginning. The real work starts with our Nation's teachers and students at all levels—especially early on. That's why we would like to highlight a unique and innovative lesson plan developed by Caitlin McCabe, a fifth grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, NY. We wanted to share Ms. McCabe's idea with people across America to inspire similar novel concepts.
Ms. McCabe thought of a great way to get her students engaged and interested in science by focusing on the National Medal of Science Awards administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She and her class created their own Medal of Science Award process in which each student researched and learned about a different famous scientist and then drafted a formal nomination as though it was to be submitted to the NSF. In fact, they went the extra mile and actually DID send in their nominations to the NSF, making their best case for why Ralph Baer (widely known as "The Father of Video Games"), Bill Gates, Marie Curie, and other icons should win the coveted Presidential award.
And who says Government is unresponsive? Mayra Montrose, Program Manager for the National Medal of Science at NSF, answered all of the nomination letters with personalized responses, thanking them for their nomination. She also provided NSF patches and rulers to each student. In the end, it was the students themselves who chose the winners: first place, Baer; second place, Walt Disney; and third place, Hippocrates.
Along with the photos (all courtesy of Ms. McCabe), we have included the lesson plan developed by Ms. McCabe, student score sheet, student letters and "biopoems" about their nominees, as well as Montrose's letters back to the students. Additionally, we got in touch with Ms. McCabe and asked her a few questions about how and why she developed such an interesting program: