Nominations Open for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The National Science Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. PAEMST are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for k-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. Awardees serve as models to their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of STEM education.

The 2020–2021 nomination and application cycle for 7–12th grade STEM teachers has officially opened. Anyone–principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public–may nominate a teacher by completing the nomination form available on the PAEMST website. To submit a nomination, you will need the teacher’s name, email address, and school contact information. If you know more than one teacher deserving of this award, you may submit more than one nomination. Teachers may also apply directly at www.paemst.org. The deadline to nominate is March 1, 2021.

Presidential awardees receive a signed certificate and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Awardees may also be invited to Washington, D.C. for a series of recognition events, which may include a tour of the White House, and professional development opportunities. They also become a member in a network of award-winning teachers from across the country. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on the behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Should you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact the Department’s Mathematics Specialist, Michele Mailhot at Michele.R.Mailhot@maine.gov or the Department’s Science Specialist, Shari Templeton at shari.templeton@maine.gov.

Announcing Maine’s 2019 Presidential Awardees for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching: John Congelosi and Robyn Graziano 

The Maine Department of Education is excited to share the announcement from the White House of the 2019 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (PAEMST). 

On August 3, 2020, President Donald J. Trump announced the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  

Awardees are selected from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories which includes American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.  Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation. 

Presidential award for K-12 teachers 

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science. 

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the State and National levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP.  Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 

The announcement was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Maine Awardees and state finalists will be recognized by the Maine Department oEducation at a later date in thpresence of PAEMST alumni and distinguished guests in a semi-formal event. 

We are pleased to announce Maine’s 2019 PAEMST awardees: 

Science (grades 7-12): John Congelosi 

John Cangelosi, Bangor High School

Mathematics (grades 7-12)Robyn Graziano 

Robyn Graziano, Maranacook Community High School

Please join us in congratulating John and Robyn! 

For more information about the PAEMST program, please contact Shari Templeton, shari.templeton@maine.gov, PAEMST Science Coordinator, or Michele Mailhot, michele.mailhot@maine.govPAEMST Mathematics Coordinator. 

English Language Arts, Life and Career Ready, and Mathematics Standards Updated

Final adoption of Chapter 132 is effective July 18, 2020, following the submission of all required Administrative Procedures Act (APA) documentation with the Secretary of State’s Office. Chapter 132: Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction revised the English Language Arts, Life and Career Ready (formerly Career and Education Development), and Mathematics standards.

The Maine DOE will be providing guidance and resources to SAUs in making the transition to the revised standards throughout the school year. There is no pre-determined date when SAUs must make the transition to the revised standards. It is the Department’s expectation that SAUs will use their own professional judgment and phase in the revised standards at a pace that makes sense for their students and for their educational practice. While, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events are not planned at this time, digital resources, virtual training, and “office hours” with content specialists are ongoing and will support professional learning about the updated standards.

The updated English Language Arts standards are streamlined, edited from the previous standards to clarify related or similar learning goals; the standards are slimmed to focus on the essential outcomes for literacy development; the updated standards are also reordered to emphasize that the language strand is central to the development of the other ELA strands. Visit English Language Arts/Literacy content standards here and contact Danielle “Dee” Saucier for K-5 and Morgan Dunton for 6-12 supports.

The Life and Career Ready content standards build from and update the 2007 Career and Education Development standards and include the braiding of social emotional learning with career development.  Visit the Life and Career Ready Standards here and contact Diana Doiron for K-12 supports.

The updated Mathematics standards are reformatted, edited and streamlined from the previous standards to better articulate the progression of learning within and across the grade spans. Visit Mathematics Standards here and contact Jennifer Robitaille for K-5 and Michele Mailhot for 6-12 supports.

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Jen Robitaille

Maine DOE team member Jen Robitaille is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Jen in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE? 

I am the Elementary Mathematics Specialist and Cumberland County Regional Rep and I am part of the Early Learning Team.  I work to design and deliver professional learning to the field in the area of mathematics as well as support assessment, standards, and best practices in elementary mathematics.  Most recently I have been working on delivering a virtual professional learning math series specific for ed techs and managing a group of grade 2 teachers working on the CL4ME module project.

What do you like best about your job? 

The aspect of my job that I like best is being able to share new learning opportunities with educators around the state.  Educators in different parts of the state have had a variety of different opportunities to engage in mathematics professional learning, so being able to offer some consistency in best practices and math resources is a highlight of my work.

How or why did you decide on this career? 

After working in the local elementary school for 16 years (classroom teacher, title 1 math specialist, and math coach) and continuing to push into more leadership roles, this seemed like the natural progression of my work in the area of mathematics.  I feel that I have a lot to offer to mathematics teaching and learning and I enjoy being able to share with others.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun? 

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family; I have a young niece and nephew that I am very close with.  I also enjoy camping, taking the time to relax, and making personalized crafts with my Cricut machine.

Maine Researchers, Teacher Begin Scientific Cruise

Submitted by Barbara Powers, Superintendent of Long Island School.

A unique educational opportunity launches on January 24, when a Maine teacher sets sail for the Southern Ocean as part of a Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences team. This partnership with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s “WeatherBlur” education project will bring the experience of an ocean research cruise to students in Maine and beyond.

“Research cruises are tremendously exciting, and sharing that excitement is a great way to interest students in science,” said Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch. “The ocean is endlessly fascinating, and learning about its vital role is essential to understanding life on Earth.”

Marci Train, a teacher at the two-room Long Island School in Casco Bay, will join Balch and several other Bigelow Laboratory scientists in order to engage students throughout the National Science Foundation-funded cruise. The research team aims to investigate how algae in the Southern Ocean may be affecting the future of sea life as far away as the Northern Hemisphere.

Marci Train with students

Throughout the cruise, Train will connect frequently with students in Maine and beyond. She will conduct video tours of the ship to show what a day at sea looks like, post learning materials on the WeatherBlur website, and share photos on social media. She will also assist with scientific operations and help conduct experiments.

“I can’t wait to have a first-hand experience with a scientific research project, and I think it is important for teachers to show their students that you are never too old to learn new information,” Train said. “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and share your own learning experiences with your students.”

Coccolithophores are a common type of algae that help form the base of ocean food webs, and they play a significant role in global chemical and carbon cycles. Balch recently found that they are remarkably scarce in the fertile waters near the equator, and his team aims to learn why during this cruise.

The Southern Ocean and equator are connected by an important ocean layer called “Sub-Antarctic mode water,” which forms at the surface of the Southern Ocean, sinks, and flows to the equator over a 40-year journey. Balch suspects that booming coccolithophore populations in the Southern Ocean are depleting its supply of essential nutrients before Sub-Antarctic mode water flows north, making the water layer sub-optimal for coccolithophore growth by the time it reaches the equator.

While at sea, the team will use satellite imagery to locate eddies rich in coccolithophores, whose chalk shells are so reflective that they can be seen from space. By measuring water properties in these eddies and collecting water to conduct onboard experiments, the researchers hope to uncover how coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean are altering this important source of nutrients before its long journey towards the equator.

“Sub-Antarctic mode water travels far north from where it forms, and it exerts a staggering level of control on much of the global ocean,” Balch said. “If coccolithophores are changing its essential properties, then they could be influencing which species grow in food webs as far away as the equator or even in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The team will use a creative approach to calculate how fast this water layer changes. The ship will follow Sub-Antarctic mode water for more than 1,000 miles on its journey to the Indian Ocean. As they measure the water’s basic properties, they will also collect samples at depth to measure freons, manufactured refrigerants that can be found throughout the environment.

Freons have constantly changed since their invention in the 1950s – a fact that today allows scientists to detect when water was last at the surface and exposed to freons in the atmosphere. Back on shore, a team from the University of Miami will determine which types of freons are present in different parcels of Sub-Antarctic mode water along the ship’s transect.

“Freons are a great timekeeper for the age of water,” Balch said. “We’ll use their time signatures to figure out how long it took a sample of Sub-Antarctic mode water to arrive where we found it, and to understand how quickly the water is changing as it’s moving north.”

The researchers will investigate these questions over 38 days aboard the RV Thomas Thompson. The team will depart from South Africa and return to the island of Mauritius in early March. The Bigelow Laboratory InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts will post updates during the cruise, as will the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This cruise is the latest research topic to be explored by WeatherBlur, an online citizen science community funded by National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project brings together students, teachers, community members, and scientists, who collaborate to ask questions, design scientific investigations, and bring back data and findings to discuss with each other.

Currently, WeatherBlur engages six Maine schools, as well as two schools from Mississippi and one school from Alabama. Train’s outreach from the cruise will be followed by more than 1,300 students and 26 teachers.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for students to see all the different career options onboard a research vessel, including positions in research and on the crew,” Train said. “It’s important that students are exposed to STEM in action, and I can’t wait for them to be immersed in this experience and see how big scientific questions get answered.”