Two Iowa teachers met this week with the President, first lady Laura Bush, and Education Secretary Rod Paige in Washington, to be honored with the Presidential Award for Excellent in Science and Math Teaching. Virginia Swenson teaches algebra at Ames High School, and says it’s “easy” to teach math…because, she says, math is so exciting — used every day in every walk of life, and she jokes with her students that she can tell them just where they’ll use math, if they can tell the teacher what they’ll be doing in another 40 years. She’s always loved math and likes to get her students as excited about it as she is. She likes to do “fun things” with the class like bringing in graphing calculators and showing them where math can be used. Science teacher Kevin Brasser works with kids in grades 8 through 12 at Paullina, a consolidated district called South OBrien Community Schools. Brasser tries to do lots of hands-on activities and projects that are “life-relevant” and engage kids so they look forward to coming in his classroom door every morning. Brasser admits he loves kids, and loves his occupation…and that makes him enthusiastic in the classroom. He says computers will never replace the classroom teacher. He uses computers a lot, complex data and software, but says you need the personal touch and morning smiles of a teacher, all the intangible things machines can’t do. Each receives 10-thousand dollars from the National Science Foundation.
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