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Eugenie Scott has done it again. A recipient of the 2001 Geological Society
of Americas Public Service Award, Scott was awarded the 2002 Public Service
Award from the National Science Board (NSB) on May 7 for increasing public understanding
of science and engineering.
Scott, a physical anthropologist, has been the executive director for the National Center for Science Education, based at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1987. She has worked to raise the level of consciousness about teaching evolution in U.S. public schools.
Scott shares the honor with the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), an organization that promotes diversity in science careers for underrepresented Latinos and Native Americans.
SACNAS and Eugenie Scott have had a profound impact on influencing and encouraging a new and more diverse group of next-generation scientists and engineers, says NSB Chairman Eamon Kelly. They have built career-developing and career-enhancing programs, and a body of thought within our K-12 public school systems promoting progressiveness and inclusiveness.
The United States Thunderbirds flew over Europe after World War
II, demonstrating the aerobatic techniques of the U.S. Air Force. In 1947, Bill
Crain worked hard as the crew chief for the Thunderbirds. He fixed the Air Force
fighter jets: the F-80 shooting star, the F-84 and the F-86. He longed to fly
for the Air Force; he had his pilots license, but at 17 years old the
mechanic had a year to go before he could apply for flying school.
Then the rules changed and, at age 18, Crain needed two years of college to pursue his dream. He was fresh out of high school traveling Europe with flying aces. Rather than leave the Thunderbirds, he finished his three-year commitment with the Air Force before turning to the University of Minnesota in Duluth.
Bill Crain stands atop Haleakula in Hawaii. Crain retired from Chevron as a director and vice president in charge of worldwide exploration and production.
In the spring of 1953, Crain was ready to graduate and move on to flying school. But he had one science credit he had to fill before he could receive his bachelors degree in business and economics. He chose a course in geology with professor Robert Heller.
Crain changed his mind and decided to become a geologist. Im an outdoors person, Crain says. The general geology course Bob taught fascinated me. He was charismatic and lit up like a light bulb whenever he had a rock in his hand. We would take field trips around Lake Superior, and I switched to geology because of his overall enthusiasm and dedication as an educator.
But in order to get into graduate school in geology, Crain needed a few more science credits. That summer, he got married and went back to college. I took all my geology courses from Bob Heller. After two years, Crain had two bachelors degrees and two kids to boot. He and his family moved to Minneapolis where Crain earned his masters degree in geology metallurgical engineering. Crain then began a lifelong career as a geologist with Chevron.
In March, the American Geological Institute (AGI) awarded Crain and the late Bob Heller its William B. Heroy Jr. Award for distinguished service. Together Crain and Heller generated the vision and support for AGIs inquiry-based, secondary-school Earth science curricula.
In 1992, Heller had contacted Crain with a proposal. He came to me dissatisfied with high school textbooks on geology, Crain says. He was interested in inquiry-based teaching, not handing the students stuff to memorize. Crain had the contacts at Chevron to help fund the project.
In 1993, however, Heller died from cancer. Three years ago, Crain saw the development of the project come to fruition after leading an AGI Foundation drive to raise $2.5 million in support of the new curriculum. Bob gave me 12 principles to embody in geologic education, and AGI was active in working with NSF in developing these principles, Crain says. He set me on the path to raise the money, and we achieved what he had envisioned.
AGIs Investigating Earth Systems is now adopted in 26 states. Middle-school teachers can use the nine-unit program as a full course presented in any order or as stand-alone modules in class. The initiative also jump-started AGIs high school curriculum, EarthComm, and a teachers guide for Investigating Earth Systems.
You know a lot of geologists became what they are because of an enthusiastic and gifted educator, Crain says. The key is exposure. And thats true in other fields as well, it happens quite often throughout education. I encouraged my own children to take as wide a variety of courses as they can, to find out what they really like. If you pick a career based on what you really like to do and not because of money and what not, youll succeed because youll be doing what you enjoy.