When Harris County Department of Education science specialist Lisa Felske learned about the research-based Project BudBurst and how it could benefit grades K-4 educators and students in Houston, she began to energetically promote the lessons to elementary teachers. Several months ago she went a step further and nominated Project BudBurst’s creator and scientist Sandra Henderson for the White House Champion of Change Award.
In June 2013, Felske was invited to the White House to join Henderson as her nominator. Eleven innovative U.S. scientists received the award for doing extraordinary things and “winning the future” in their communities. Specifically, the award recognizes leadership in engaging the broader, non-expert community in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) research.
“I have been promoting Project BudBurst to local teachers since I found out about it last fall,” said Felske, who provides professional development for Houston-area science teachers through HCDE workshops and leadership meetings.
Felske met Henderson at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in San Antonio.
“There are many wonderful citizen science resources available, but few encourage grades K-4 participation,” Felske said. “So when the Champions for Change for Citizen Science nomination ran across my desk, I thought Sandra Henderson was a perfect fit.”
As the National Ecological Observatory Network director, Henderson promotes “citizen science,” the practice of allowing everyday citizens to collect and analyze data about Earth. The Boulder, Colorado scientist promotes student research on plant species’ response to regional and national changes in climate. NEON collaborates on the project with the Chicago Botanic Garden.
“Plants have stories to tell us about changing climates if we only take the time to observe and learn,” Henderson said.
Through a program called Budburst Buddies, early childhood educators can involve children early-on in observing plants. Theoretical and active observation helps teachers integrate science into classroom instruction, bringing science to life for young learners.
About HCDE: Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at www.hcde-texas.org.
Carol E. Vaughn, Communications/Media Relations Manager
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