Contributed

Deanne Bishop stands in front of the White House during her recent trip to Washington D.C. for the Research Teachers Conference.

Bishop selected for science teacher conference in D.C.

Deanne Bishop, PCS curriculum coordinator and high school science teacher, joined 199 other science teachers in Washington D.C. for the Research Teachers Conference on Sept. 28-30. 

The Society for Science & the Public welcomed these teachers at all levels of experience to share best practices, troubleshoot challenges they face in supporting students in independent science research and learn more about the Society as well as the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS).

Conference breakout sessions were presented by veteran research teachers, one of which was made by Bishop on her experimental science class. Bishop said the class is a non-threatening name for basic mechanical engineering, which is pretty unique to the high school level. 

Bishop created the class from scratch 14 years ago as a way to get students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities. She said they research around 16 different topics throughout the school year. These topics have included solar cookers, mousetrap cars roller coasters, rockets, turbines, catapults, steam engines and a large Angry Birds setup to study elastic potential energy.

“No textbooks. No tests. No quizzes. It’s all build it, try it, rebuild it, analyze it, what worked, what didn’t work, data, graphs and that type of research,” said Bishop. 

She was paired to co-present with another veteran teacher from Silicone Valley, California. She said while they each come from complete opposite sides of rural vs. urban schools, they teach a very similar class. 

Bishop enjoyed meeting teachers across the country. She said many urban teachers were surprised to hear how schools in rural America operate. A teacher at a private school in Santa Barbara, California has taken “field trips” to the Galapagos Islands, Kenya and Tanzania. 

“That’s not my reality. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re not doing high quality work where we are,” Bishop said. “If anything, I think in some ways, we have to get more creative because of our location.”

She said it was interesting to see how similar course content was, even though the economics were different. 

The conference also included an in-depth look at the Regeneron STS, a competition for high school seniors run by the Society. 

Each year approximately 1,800 students enter the Regeneron STS, submitting original research in critically important scientific fields of study in competition for more than $3.1 million in awards.

Last year, Regeneron, a leading biotechnology company using the power of science to bring new medicines to patients in need, became the third sponsor of the STS, with a 10-year, $100 million commitment.  

Regeneron was founded with the goal of transforming lives through science and its most important and social commitment has been to support the development of highly engaged, well-trained and innovative young thinkers.

Interest in the Research Teachers Conference remains high, with 1,288 teachers signing up for the lottery to apply. 

Of the 200 teachers selected to attend—one third consist of veteran teachers who have significant experience teaching research, one third of teachers who have some experience, and one third of teachers who do not have experience yet, but would like to begin supporting students by teaching research. 

No more than one teacher per school is selected to attend and schools that have not attended in the past are given preference. 

Bishop was the only teacher from Nebraska to attend the conference, and the first ever from Perkins County. 

“The young people sitting in science classrooms today will someday be solving our world’s largest challenges. I’m thrilled that through the Research Teachers Conference, the Society is providing teachers with the tools they need to guide their students through scientific research and help foster a love of science,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “It is critical that we provide their teachers with the tools they need to ensure that these students have quality STEM research experiences.”

Expenses for travel, lodging and meals were covered by the Society. 

Sightseeing

Bishop also took in the sights of her nation’s capital. She visited the office of Senator Ben Sasse, where she received passes to sit in the House and Senate galleries of Congress.

She visited the Capitol, Old Supreme Court, Ford’s Theatre, various memorials at the Mall, the National Archives, numerous Smithsonian Museums and walked around the outside of the White House.   

She attended a service at the National Cathedral and even received a library card from the Library of Congress. 

The Supreme Court began its new term on Monday, Oct. 1. Bishop said she was in line by 6:50 a.m., hoping to get a seat in the courtroom to hear oral arguments scheduled for 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. 

After standing in line for nearly four hours, she was given a pass to listen to oral arguments in the courtroom for five minutes. 

She said it was more than worth it, and amazing to see the Justices in person.

Bishop noted all of these sightseeing opportunities were free for her to enjoy and learn about her country and government. 

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