PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

Each month, we highlight a PAESTA member (K-16 instructor, informal educator, or pre-service teacher) that has made a notable contribution to the Earth and space science community and/or has served as a leader for the discipline.  Please nominate a teacher for us to recognize (or self-nominate) by completing our online Contact form.

February 2018 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Cyndy Lindahl, an Earth science teacher at Armstrong Jr-Sr High School in Kittanning, PA.  Cyndy is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a Michigan native who started teaching in Pennsylvania in 2003.  She has taught at Springdale High School, Otto-Eldred High School and currently teaches Science 7 at Armstrong Junior Senior High School. Some of her favorite student projects this year included a research project in which students looked at the aspects of the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere present in our National Parks; making Borox crystal ornaments for Christmas; and using Legos and earthquake tables to learn the scientific method and the engineering design process. 

Cyndy is being recognized for her outstanding STEM connection efforts with students in the fields of robotics and programming using innovative kits developed by CREATE at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.

Congratulations, Cyndy - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

If you see outstanding pedagogy or student work in the Earth Sciences, please nominate a teacher for us to recognize (or self-nominate) by completing our online Contact form. 

September 2017 PAESTARs

This month we recognize brothers Devin and Roldan Kramer from Ardmore, PA, for receiving the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for grade levels K-5 in EPA Region 3 for their work to save frogs and toads. The national award is presented each year to exceptional students who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges. The brothers’ interest in the topic was sparked by discussions about the number of mosquitos in their area, and the decline of predators like bats, frogs and toads, which feed on mosquitos. The brothers learned that each April, the swimming pool at their local park drains the water and ends up killing tadpoles living in the pool before they can mature. To increase the population of native frogs and toads, Devin and Roldan took approximately 2,000 tadpoles from the pool in April and raised them to the frog and toad stage in an aquarium system and collected fruit flies from a compost bin to feed them. Over the course of their project, the brothers observed their aquarium closely, protected the tadpoles from predators, and transferred the tadpoles to a larger aquarium as they grew legs. As a result of their project, Devin and Roldan have observed not only an increase in frog and toad populations, but improvement in the overall ecosystem, with a decrease in the number of mosquitoes, and a growing number of native animals, such as snakes, fish, and birds.

Congratulations, Devin and Roldan - you clearly are PAESTARs!

July 2017 PAESTAR

This month we recognize 6th grader Reece Steidle from Mount Nittany Middle School in State College, PA, for his winning entry in the NASA Cassini Scientist for a Day contest for 2016-2017. The Cassini Scientist for a Day contest challenges students to become NASA scientists studying Saturn. Participants examine three possible observations taken by the Cassini spacecraft and are tasked to choose the one they think will yield the best scientific results. This choice must then be supported in essay. Reece is one of three U.S. winners for grades 5 & 6, and his winning essay is available online.

Congratulations, Reece - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

June 2017 PAESTAR

This month we recognize two Pennsylvania schools/districts honored by the U.S. Department of Education for being selected as Green Ribbon Schools. They include Coebourn Elementary School in the Penn-Delco School District and the School District of Philadelphia. Congratulations! Information regarding the Green Ribbon Schools in Pennsylvania is available online.

Congratulations, Coebourn Elementary and Philadelphia School District - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

April 2017 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Kelly Lannutti from The High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Heather Olson from Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School. Both of these Philadelphia teachers took the time to share with their students the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its mission to protect human health and the environment. Their students then wrote cards and letters to the EPA Region 3 office to show support for EPA's work and its employees.

Congratulations, Kelly and Heather - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

December 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library for their support of national Earth science celebrations. This fall, the library staff created a display with books and an iPad with TED videos during Earth Science Week in October. In November, the library had a similar display table for Geography Awareness Week and even issued a formal proclamation to celebrate GAW. We are pleased to see the Vairo Library call attention to their Earth science resources and encouragement for their visitors to learn more.

Congratulations, Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

October 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Dan Leppold from Spring Ford School District in Montgomery County, PA. His nominator writes that Dan is a "popular, energetic Earth Science teacher" active in supporting PAESTA through social media and through several excellent pictures he has submitted for PAESTA's Earth Science Image Database. Last spring, Dan was selected to join the NASA Social team for the March 22nd Orbital ATK OA-6 Cargo Resupply Flight to the International Space Station. Dan's excitement and interest in bringing Earth Science alive to his students is clearly evident from his in-class and outside activities.

Congratulations, Dan - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


September 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Nicole Fuhrman of Strong Vincent High School in Erie, Pennsylvania, for being the District IV winner of the 2016 NSTA/Shell Science Lab Challenge. Because most of Nicole's students did not learn science concepts in primary school years, they lack the knowledge to understand more abstract, complex concepts in high school. Hands-on activities make these abstract concepts concrete and give students confidence to delve deeper into the content. Because Erie City School District has budget challenges, the school's lab facilities are incomplete and have very few technology resources. However, Nicole has improved student learning by using simple materials in creative ways to have students understand concepts such as the formation of igneous rocks. The opportunity to work with real scientific tools adds authenticity to classroom experiences and legitimacy to students' work, which is why NSTA/Shell has recognized Nicole for her creativity and innovation.

Congratulations, Nicole - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


June 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize our friends of the Healthy People, Healthy Planet Summer Camp & Community Project Incubator program at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Their one-week summer camp (June 21-25) will provide high school student/teacher teams high impact, immersive environmental education experiences, while acting as a community environmental project incubator by providing seed money for projects of the students’ choosing. This program will fill the void in post-elementary school environmental education opportunities for young people, solidifying their interest in environmental stewardship and positively impacting their communities. Financial support for the camp is from EconomicPennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Education grant program.

Congratulations, Slippery Rock University for your innovative program - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


May 2016 PAESTAR

This month we are giving a "shout out" to an outstanding student! Here, we recognize Rohan Chalasani, a junior at Fox Chapel Area High School in Pittsburgh, PA, for being selected as an EPA Region 3 National Winner for grades 6-12 of the 2015 President's Environmental Youth Award. Rohan is recognized for his project, "Impact of Energy Consumption Reduction on Household Carbon Footprints."

Congratulations, Rohan - you clearly are a PAESTAR!