The National Science Teachers Association has chosen three Ascension Parish science teachers as regional winners in the Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge.

Of the 39 regional winners, three grand prize winners will get a school science lab makeover support package.

The regional winners from Ascension Parish are Ashley Townsend of Oak Grove Primary School, Jennifer Gautreau of Lake Elementary School, and Jessica Wilson of St. Amant High School.

To enter the 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 instruction utilizing their school’s current lab facilities, according to a news release.

The regional winners each received a school science lab makeover support package valued at $10,000 for the elementary and middle levels and $15,000 for the high school level.

At Oak Grove Primary School, Townsend said she is trying to move from teacher-directed science learning to experience-based learning, so she needs to ensure that resources are available. 

At Lake Elementary School, which teachers and students were able to move back into this year after two years of being displaced from the flood of 2016, Gautreau said the lab upgrade is greatly needed because students need equitable access to learning through lab experiences using equipment such as measuring devices and probes and sensors for life, Earth and physical sciences.

At St. Amant High School, which also flooded in 2016, Wilson is helping implement a three-dimensional phenomena-based curriculum, which is designed to meet the rigors of the Next Generation Science Standards through problem-based learning, engineering, scientific investigations, math and literacy connections with claim-evidence-reasoning assessments.

At the national level of the competition, Townsend, Gautreau and Wilson will each have a chance to win an additional $5,000 of support to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Boston, Massachusetts, April 2-5, 2020. The three grand prize winners and their principals will be honored at the Shell reception and Teachers Awards Gala, taking place during the conference.