NSTA Article  


    Guy Finne receives Local Government Innovation Award Local Government Innovation Award

    Recently, the Mobile Science Lab received a Local Government Innovation Award.  The Humphrey School’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC) at the University of Minnesota partnered with the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), and the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) to conduct the fifth annual Local Government Innovation Awards, which laud outstanding cities, counties, and public schools that use innovative practices to improve local services.  We were proud to announce that our Mobile Science Lab project was honored with one of these prestigious awards.
    This year’s Local Government Innovation Award winners were selected based on innovations that meet local needs, promote collaboration, improve service delivery, and develop sustainable strategies for service redesign. The awards were given to innovations that have demonstrated growth beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated progress and impact.  The 13 projects chosen statewide were selected from a pool of 30 nominated by a panel of local officials, Humphrey faculty, and a public affairs journalist.  20% of the score was based on the level of public support for each entry, based on an online voting site.  We thank those of you that showed your support, as we received the third highest number of votes amongst the winning projects.
    The reception and award ceremony was held on Wednesday, April 13 at the Humphrey Center in Minneapolis.  Our project was represented by Guy Finne, Recruitment Advisor, Mayo Clinic; Dale Walston, Director of Operations, Southeast Service Cooperative; Randy Johnson, Executive Director, Workforce Development Inc.; Tim Penny, President and CEO, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation; and Sonya McNamara, Health Science Career and Technical Education Coordinator, HealthForce Minnesota.
    Thanks to this honor, our Mobile Science Labs were one of three recipients that were highlighted in a Star Tribune article on March 15 and in the July-August 2011 Minnesota School Board Association Journal.  Some quotes collected from our funders and partners for the press releases include:
    ·         “This program has made a significant impact on our regional community.  It has given us an outlet to better serve our high school science teachers, has solidified many long-time relationships, and has connected other organizations in new partnerships.  To date, almost 2,000 students have used the Mobile Science Labs, with 91% indicating that the experience has increased engagement in their learning, taught them new skills, and increased their awareness of scientific careers. At a time when there is so much focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) we are proud that our program is making a difference and having such a positive effect on students.”  Amy Grover, Program and Planning Manager, Southeast Service Cooperative
    ·         “It is outstanding to see an investment that makes a meaningful difference in the region.”  John Monson, Vice President, AgStar Rural Capital Network and Chairman of the AgStar Fund for Rural America
    ·         “I am delighted to learn that the Science Lab has been selected by the Humphrey Institute to receive recognition. It has been exciting to see how this project has grown over the years. Our Foundation was pleased to play an early role as convener for the initial planning sessions - and to have provided a grant last year to assist in expanding the program.” Tim Penny, President and CEO, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
    ·         "We know that 70% of the new jobs created in Minnesota over the remainder of this decade will require post-secondary education - and that nearly all of these will require advanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills. We need to make sure our students are afforded opportunities to experience hands-on STEM learning activities with the latest equipment and relevant curriculum. The mobile science labs are a great, innovative way to ensure that students can see themselves as real scientists, and catch a glimpse of their future."  - Randy Johnson, Executive Director, Workforce Development, Inc.

    ·         “This project is an excellent example of educational, employer and public sectors working together. It  creates excitement for both teachers and students and results in new and innovative STEM education opportunities for our youth” - Jane Foote, Executive Director, HealthForce Minnesota

    MAAE Outstanding Cooperation Award

    Ross Aleff was selected as the 2011 state winner of the Minnesota Association of Agricultur Educators (MAAE) Outstanding Cooperation award. This is a much deserved award, as our program would not exist without his dedication and drive. Congratulations to Ross and thanks for helping the teachers in Minnesota enhance science in the classroom!

    Regional Grants to Teachers

    Recently, Lee Thompson from Goodhue High School applied for a $10,000 grant from Monsanto dealing with science and rural education.  He wrote about the molecular biology program offered through SSC and Mayo and also our commitment to the program.  Lee states "I think that your program as well as my involvement with it impressed the people at Monsanto" because he was awarded the grant to purchase lab equipment to help him complete some of the labs I have done...pGLO, GMO, Basic PCR, etc.  Kudos to Lee for his successful grant writing effort!

    Winona Senior High School biology teacher, Kenneth Mann, was awarded a $5,000 "Dare to Dream" grant by the Winona Area Public Schools Foundation to purchase new DNA equipment for his classroom.  This equipment will allow students to do DNA fingerprinting, investigate genetically-modified crops, and see the genetic difference between cow's milk and goat's milk.  His experiences with the Mobile Science Lab plays a role in his curriculum, which will allow him to add on to student learning with even more advanced equipment and to copy DNA and complete detailed crime lab projects.

    2011 Intel Schools of Distinction Winner - Byron High School

    At an awards gala in Washington, D.C., on September 20, 2011, six schools were names as Intel Schools of Distinction for their deomonstrated excellence in math and science education and their ability to promote students' problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills, areas called 21st century by educators. This honor, including the prestigious Star Innovator Award, recognizes schools for exemplary instruction in math and science. Amongst the honorees was Byron Senior High School. In the press release, teachers say a "perfect mathematical storm" occurred when a need for new textbooks, the lack of funds for such textbooks, and a group of creative educators came together. Recognizing the value of a growing body of online instructional tools, as well as the fact that no signle textbook could address all of the required mathematics standards anyway, teachers decided to bulid their own textbook-free curriculum. As a result, math scores have risen dramatically, from 29.9% of 11th graders meeting proficiency requirements in 2007 to 65.6% in 2010. The Mobile Science Labs were mentioned as one key component to what they are accomplishing in the video below. We are proud to have played a role in this success story.