Two Louisiana schools top Shell’s regional science challenge


Two Louisiana schools have been named grand prize winners in the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge.

East Ascension High School in Gonzales was named the high school winner, while Lacache Middle School in Chauvin, a community in Terrebonne Parish, was named the middle school champ.

The competition encouraged K-12 teachers who have found innovative ways to deliver quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources to share their approaches. The prize: a school science lab makeover support package.

To enter the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge, K-12 science teachers located in select school districts near Shell assets were asked to describe their school’s current laboratory resources, explain why laboratory upgrade support is needed, and describe their approach to science education instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities. A panel of science educators then reviewed and selected the top entries.

“The science resources provide students access to safe lab equipment to support their inquisitive interests. Encouraging students to ask questions, explore, construct, test and interpret observations are important skills that may lead to them pursuing science disciplines,” Dr. Frazier Wilson, vice president of theShell Oil Company Foundation and director of workforce development diversity outreach, said Monday in a statement. “The Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge equips schools’ labs to increase quality educational outcomes, especially for science teachers who create innovative experiences for students despite limited lab environments.”

In addition to the school science lab makeover support package—valued at $10,000 for the middle school winner and $15,000 for the high school winner—each grand prize winning teacher received an additional $5,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association National Conference on Science Education in April, where the three grand prize winners and their principals will be honored.

At East Ascension High, the Shell announcement noted, the philosophy of Jaimie McQuarn’s science department is that students learn best engaging in inquiry and experimentation, rather than lecture and rote memorization.

To improve her science lab, McQuarn used award funds to buy a set of digital microscopes and Carolina Inquiry kits. With the microscopes, students were motivated and engaged in several activities and participated in tactile and visual learning. Environmental science students also explored weathering and permeability with the use of a Carolina Inquiry kit. The Carolina Inquiry kits provide engaging lessons that can easily be connected to literacy, allowing students to become immersed in real-world science.

In Chauvin, Dawn Sevin’s students not only do science, but are also actively engaged in STEM concepts and activities. Her students build remotely operated vehicles and test them, make modifications, and retest them at the local marine research facility. This activity is real-world because students live near the water—there is increasing concern over water quality and land loss along with the career opportunities in the area that relate to oceanography and exploration.