Belgrade High School science teacher Brianna James has been named a district winner in the Shell Science Lab Challenge, a nationwide competition for middle and high school science teachers who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources.
As the winner of the district encompassing Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, James will receive a $3,000 science lab prize package. It includes a $1,000 grant from Shell Oil Company, $1,000 in donated science lab equipment donated by Carolina Biological Supply Company, and a $300 gift certificate to the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Science Store.
James, who has been teaching at Belgrade High for eight years, said she learned about the competition in December and was interested in participating in order to upgrade technology in her classroom. She teaches physics, anatomy and physiology and Earth science.
James said she hopes to use the prize to replace outdated sensors that students use to collect data, as well as old laptop computers that are used to run the sensors. The limitations posed by the outdated components often mean students are delayed in their data collection while she struggles to get the equipment up and running, she said.
In announcing the award, NSTA acknowledged that upgrading lab sensors will enable James’ students to capture more accurate data to come up with reliable conclusions.
According to NSTA, James’ application impressed judges because of her student-centered, hands-on approach to teaching science, which “provides authentic learning experience for all students, where they learn about things that matter to them.”