Category Archives: Science Education

News from Science Education

ESC Students and Alumni Recruiting at NCSTA

East Carolina University Provides Strong Leadership in Science Education

The North Carolina Science Teachers’ Association (NCSTA) held its annual professional development conference November 12th & 13th 2015.  There were over a thousand science educators, teachers, university professors, and informal science representatives from across the state in attendance this year.

East Carolina University alumni demonstrated their continuous impact on science education by receiving four awards from the North Carolina Science Teachers’ Association.  Beth Wantz won the Most Outstanding Science Student Teacher award.  Beth graduated in May 2015 and has served as a camp counselor for ECU Summer Science Camp for the last three summers.  She is currently teaching Kindergarten at H.B. Sugg in Farmville.  Kelsey Phillips won the Most Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher award.  Kelsey teaches fifth grade at W. H. Robinson in Winterville.  Kelsey was also a counselor for ECU Summer Science Camp.  Both Kelsey and Beth concentrated in Elementary Science, and they are both working with Assistant Professor Dr. Tammy Lee with her grant entitled PIRATES (Preparing and Inspiring Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science), which is an induction model for beginning elementary science teachers.  Kelsey and Beth presented for the first time at the conference on how to integrate science into all subject areas.  Blair Driver received the award for the Most Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher.  Ms. Driver has been an Assistant Director and counselor for the ECU Summer Science Camp.   Currently, Blair is working with Dr. Rhea Miles on her Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership Program (SEADAP) in which they and other teachers presented on latest classroom applications.  Ms. Driver received more recognition earlier in the week when she was named Pactolus School Teacher of the Year.  Finally, Marcus Pate was recognized as the Most Outstanding High School Science Teacher.  Mr. Pate teaches Earth and Environmental Science at South Central High School in Pitt County.  He was a graduate of ECU in 2013 and is known for his innovative use of technology in the classroom.

Science Education faculty and Elementary Science Concentration students were also busy at the conference recruiting for the awesome programs in MSITE and across the College of Education.  Ten Elementary Science Concentration students worked the recruitment booth and attended sessions.  They will be providing a poster session for the MSITE department on Wednesday, November 18th, at 5:00pm in Flanagan.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  East Carolina University is moving Science Education in the right direction!

Beth Wantz

Beth Wantz

Blair Driver

Blair Driver

Kelsey Phillips

Kelsey Phillips

Marcus Pate

Marcus Pate

Marcus Pate, Beth Wantz, Kelsey Phillips, and Blair Driver

Marcus Pate, Beth Wantz, Kelsey Phillips, and Blair Driver

Bonnie, Rhea, and Tammy

Bonnie, Rhea, and Tammy

Elementary Science Concentration Students at NCSTA

Elementary Science Concentration Students at NCSTA

NSTA Conference

Annual Conference of the National Science Teachers Association

Dr. Sharon Schleigh sent us this note about the NSTA Conference. We had great fun with the NSTA attendees in Philadelphia this week. It was wonderful to meet with the many people who are excited about ECU and how many were alums or knew alums.  This was very exciting!

NSTA Conference

NSTA Conference



Dr. Rhea Miles, Co-Principal Investigator, Leads SEADAP Grant Program to Teach Students about the Science of Drug Addiction

The Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership (SEADAP) program aims to expose students from 6th through 12th grade to the real-world applications of the scientific method in order to teach them about drug addiction.  The SEADAP program, now in its second year, continues to implement hands-on curriculum educating students about the science of drug addiction and the adverse effects of widely abused substances while exposing students in in research activities to increase their interest in STEM careers.

Students are led in the design of their own experiments on planaria, a type of flatworm, with nicotine, alcohol, and sucrose solutions to conduct investigations from lab manuals that specifically address the National Science Education Standard & Common Core, while building partnerships with medical scientists, addiction specialists and professional educators, to educate the general public about drug abuse.


ECU recently hosted its second group of educators from Pitt, Martin and Greene county public schools, continuing to expand the Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership Program into North Carolina’s STEM curriculum.

High school students from Pitt and Greene county conduct research investigations at ECU, studying the effect of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and sucrose on planaria under the direction of Dr. Miles in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education.

Seventh-grade students in Martin county study the effects of drug addiction on flatworms through the SEADAP grant.  (photo credit:  Cliff Hollis, ECU News Services)

Teachers in Philadelphia attend a professional development conference at Temple University’s Center for Substance Abuse Research led by SEADAP principal investigator, Dr. Scott Rawls and co-principal investigator, Dr. Rhea Miles.


For more information on the SEADAP Program contact:
Dr. Rhea Miles


Perceptions of Science Teachers on State, National, and International Assessments

According to a new study by Dr. Rhea Miles and Dr. Tony Thompson published in the National Teacher Education Journal, reflections on standardized assessments are prompting science teachers to improve their teaching practices.

Full details are available in the study.

“I Had No Idea!” A Snapshot of Science Teacher Perceptions of Student Performance on State, National and International Assessments.  National Teacher Education Journal (Fall 2015), 8(3), pp. 61-66.

Abstract: A survey was used to explore science teachers perceptions of state (North Carolina), national (NAEP), and international assessments (TIMSS, PISA). Although familiar with state assessments, findings indicate that most science teachers were unaware of national and international assessments and felt their own students would not do as well as high-achieving students in other US states or nations. In addition, slightly less than half of the teachers felt their teaching corresponded with the ‘world class’ standards represented by NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA. This study also found that reviewing national and international assessments caused individual science teachers to question the nature and quality of their own curriculum, teaching, and assessments; as a consequence, several teachers used these “global” assessments as an innovative influence on improving science education “locally” in the their own classrooms.

PIRATES Teachers

PIRATES Educators Work to Improve K-6 Science Education

On Saturday, October 10th fifteen College of Education alumni returned to East Carolina University to attend a workshop, “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” These teachers were among the first graduates of the newly developed Elementary Science Concentration at East Carolina University that focuses on the scientific content and knowledge needed for teaching science to K-6 students.  Students enrolled in the concentration receive instructional strategies and specialized content knowledge within all domains of science.

The workshop was funded by a research start-up grant entitled PIRATES (Preparing and Inspiring Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science).  The grant was awarded to Assistant Professor, Dr. Tammy D. Lee who spearheaded the development of this program in response to the need to improve STEM education in the early grades.  PIRATES is designed to support the fifteen newly specialized science teachers over the course of three years.  These beginning teachers will work with ECU science education faculty, ECU scientists, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science staff to strengthen their knowledge and skills in systemic science education.  The goal of the PIRATES program is to return these teachers to their classrooms and schools across North Carolina as elementary science education leaders.

Participant Ashley Barfield a teacher at Abbotts Creek Elementary School in Raleigh said, “The PIRATE grant will not only benefit me as a teacher but my teammates, students, and my school.”

“This grant will be a huge impact in my classroom because it will help my students to think critically about science in the real world by learning about systems,” added Amber Ellington a teacher at Falkland Elementary in Greenville.

Since the launch of the Elementary Science Concentration in the fall of 2012, enrollment has grown from seven students to over one hundred.

“This increased enrollment indicates the overwhelming interest of elementary pre-service teachers to become science teacher specialists,” said Dr. Lee.

For more information about East Carolina University’s Elementary Science Concentration or the PIRATES grant please contact Dr. Tammy D. Lee at
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PIRATES Teachers

Danielle Alford, Benson Elementary School
Christina Baik, Stokes Elementary School
Ashley Barfield, Abbotts Creek Elementary School
Dail Berry, Mattamuskeet Early College High School
Kara Rouse, Lenoir County Public Schools
Amber Ellington, Falkland  Elementary School
Amanda Etheridge, Lucama Elementary School
Rachel Fendrick, Palmer Elementary
Katherine Hart, Northwest Elementary
Kayla Sager, Angier Elementary School
Bethany Wantz, H.B. Sugg Elementary School
Abby Wilkinson, Ayden Elementary


PIRATES teachers participating in the “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” event on October 10.  Pictured above from left to right: Kayla Sager, Christina Baik, Amber Ellington, Abby Wilkinson, Katherine Hart (red shirt), Ashley Barfield, Beth Wantz Kara Rouse, Danielle Alford, Rachel Fendrick Amanda Etheridge and Dail Berry

Kneeling:   Bonnie Glass and Dr. Tammy Lee

Kay Middleton photo

Dr. Kay Middleton to Provide Key Speech at Annual Conference of Mathematics Educators

Dr. Middleton will be a featured speaker at the Annual Conference of the Kentucky Center for Mathematics.  Dr. Middleton’s research focuses on factors that influence instructional practice and students’ opportunity to learn, including teachers’ use of formative assessment, literacy practices in mathematics and science, and students’ development of written computation.  For the complete announcement and a list of all featured speakers, see


Dr. Preston

Ron Preston serves as President of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Dr. Ron Preston, ECU Mathematics Education, began his tenure as President of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) in April 2015.  He will convene the 45th Annual NCCTM State Conference on November 5, 2015 as well as the NCCTM Leadership Seminar on November 4.  Both events are held at the Koury Conference Center in Greensboro.

NCCTM was founded approximately 50 years ago to unite all teachers, supervisors, curriculum developers, and teacher educators of mathematics in a shared goal of exceptional mathematics teaching for optimal mathematical learning for all NC students.  In addition to conferences and seminars, NCCTM provides Mathematics Fairs for K-12 students, supports mathematics competitions for high school students, awards mini-grants to classroom teachers of mathematics, provides scholarships to support graduate studies for teachers, presents awards for outstanding performance and innovation in mathematics education, and publishes a journal.

Ron Preston is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics and the College of Education.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics education at ECU and serves as Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education’s Director of Students.  He is the 2014-2015 ECU Faculty Advisor of the Year.  He is active in funded projects and research in mathematics education.  He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Indiana University.


Dail Berry Receives Teacher of the Week Award from WITN

The MSITE department congratulates Ms. Dail Berry on this award and wishes to recognize her accomplishments. Last May, Ms. Berry graduated from East Carolina University, receiving the Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Elementary Science. In the summer of 2014, she was an innovative camp counselor for the East Carolina Summer Science Camp. In her role as camp counselor, she created and implemented the popular camp session, Under the Sea. Ms. Berry also has experience working as a counselor for the 4H program in her hometown. After graduation, Ms. Berry decided to return home to Hyde County to start her teaching career. She is now teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Mattamuskeet Early College High School. When asked about her interest in science, Ms. Dail stated, “I fell in love with science while taking courses at ECU and now I want science to be my focus.”

Ms. Dail has already distinguished herself as a leader in her school by assisting with the Jr. Beta club, a Co-advisor of the Envirothon team, and the Assistant Varsity Coach for the high school volleyball team. For the next three years, she will also be a part of a new research grant entitled PIRATES, Preparing and Inspiring Readiness for Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science. Dr. Tammy Lee, Assistant Professor in Science Education at ECU, noted: “The goal of this grant is to support beginning teachers that specialized in elementary science within their undergraduate education program at ECU.” The person nominating Ms. Berry for this award said, “She is an amazing teacher and the sweetest person. It’s her first year teaching and I’d love for her to get recognition for all her hard work and determination.”

Here is the link to the WITN interview with Ms. Berry.

Way to go Dail!


Belize Anyone? Blair Driver Selected to Study Tropical Ecologies

Blair Driver is an extremely talented middle school science teacher at Pactolus School in Pitt County, Assistant Director of the East Carolina University Summer Science Camp, and graduate from the General Science Concentration provided by the Science Education program area in the MSITE Department. Recently, Ms. Driver received notification that she was selected as an Educator of Excellence in Science by the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh N.C.

This is an extremely prestigious honor for Ms. Driver, her students, and all of us here in the MSITE department. Ms. Driver will be one of twelve teachers from North Carolina that will travel to Belize, Central America with naturalists from the museum. On this trip she will experience several tropical habitats, including coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and rain forests. The daily program will engage participants in field experiences as they explore these various ecologies of Belize. The program includes learning about the culture of Central America by touring a Mayan ruin as well as having two Belizean teachers join the group throughout the entire trip providing teachers of N.C. with a local resource from the area. The culminating project involves spending time with students at a Belizean school where N.C. and Belizean teachers will work together to teach science. The MSITE department wishes Ms. Driver safe travels and wants to extend our congratulations to her. Thank you for all your hard work, Ms. Driver, and your continuing efforts to strengthen science education for the students of Eastern N.C.


MAEd-MIDG Student, Jennifer Stalls, Selected for Kenan Fellows Program

Jennifer Stalls, sixth-grade science teacher at C. M. Eppes Middle School in Pitt County, is among 40 educators from across the state who have been selected as 2015-16 Kenan Fellows. Earlier this year, she was presented the NC Science Teachers Association’s District One Outstanding Science Teacher Award. A graduate of East Carolina University, Stalls is currently earning her Masters of Education-Middle Grades Education degree in ECU’s College of Education with a concentration in science.

Beginning in June, the new Kenan Fellows will spend five weeks of their summer learning and gaining experience from local experts in nanotechnology, financial education, renewable energy, genetics research, energy, and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

A core goal of the program is to develop outstanding teacher leaders who serve as advocates for excellence in education. The year-long fellowship begins with the summer internship and culminates with the development and implementation of cutting-edge educational curricula and programs designed by Kenan Fellows. These resources and programs are shared with other educators and used in classrooms, school systems, and communities across the state and beyond.

Educators selected for fellowships demonstrate proven leadership or leadership potential and are awarded a $6,000 stipend that includes travel expenses. Kenan Fellows also receive 80 hours of professional development divided into three professional advancement institutes that focus on leadership skills, community engagement, proven instructional strategies, and education policy. The Biogen Foundation is the premier sponsor of the institutes.

-Source: Pitt County Schools Website