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College of Education Recognized with Two Prestigious SASTE Conference Awards

Members of Southeastern Association of Science Teacher Education (SASTE) foster leadership in and support for those involved in the professional development of teachers of science, primarily for those working in or concerned with states in the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). The 2013 SASTE annual conference was held on October 11-12 in Statesboro, Georgia and addressed the overarching theme: "Success in Science Education: Where are we and where are we headed?"

This SASTE's conference theme asked who owns science education: science educators or the current framework that defines education. SASTE expounded by stating, "If we were to increase by 100% the number of people in STEM, increase by 100% participation of currently underrepresented population members in STEM fields, increase by 100% the number of students who score in the 90th percentile of science standardized tests, and eliminate the masculinity of science completely, would we then be considered successful in science education? We think the answers, if any, lie in the idea that being a science educator and determining success may be no longer in our hands. Before we lose the ability to effect the future of science education, we believe we must agree that what we are doing is not working and complexify the status quo in science education."

Each year, SASTE encourages science educators to join the conversation by submitting presentations and position papers that are related to the conference theme. Additionally, individuals are nominated and selected to receive one of four awards. This year, USC's College of Education is proud to announce that two prestigious awards were bestowed upon ITE Associate Professor Dr. Nathan Carnes and doctoral student Brittany Gavin.

Dr. Nathan Carnes was celebrated with The John Shrum Award which is the highest honor that SASTE gives. This award recognizes a person who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to science education and participation and leadership with SASTE. It is typically given to a senior faculty member or emeritus professor. Carnes was nominated by Auburn University Associate Professor Dr. Charles J. Eick, who said that in addition to the numerous awards accredited to Carnes' service and leadership, "…Dr. Carnes has been a member of and contributed to SASTE since 2001. He has served as our regional SASTE director and president. He is also a current ASTE board member…As a science teacher educator, Dr. Carnes spends much of his time working in his local schools in trying to make a difference for his future science teachers and the local teachers and children with whom he works. "Accompanying the award title was a monetary stipend of $300 and plaque. Dr. Carnes plans to use the stipend to help cover expenses for consumable materials used in his science methods courses.

Within the seventeen years that Dr. Carnes has taught at the college, he has been distinguished as a USC Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow; recognized with the College of Education Service Award; and awarded as ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator. Dr. Carnes has dedicated thirty-three years to science education. During that time, Carnes has earned much recognition, notability that of ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year - Award I; USC Department of Student Life's 2013 Outstanding Service-Learning Award; USC' Black Faculty and Staff Association Faculty Teaching and Scholarship Award; Alpha Chapter of Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award; and the Young Experimental Scientist Instructor for Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, OH.

The SASTE annual meeting is a "safe" forum for graduate students to present their Master's and doctoral level research under the tutelage of veteran science educators. The conference program provides valuable networking opportunities. ITE Curriculum Studies doctoral student Ms. Brittany Garvin, earned the Eddie Griffin Memorial award for her position paper on "Success in science education: The need for a culturally responsive approach." The Eddie Griffin Memorial award recognizes the outstanding position paper by a graduate student that addresses the conference theme.

Garvin states her position - "the success in science education looks at the critical need for improved education reform- where efforts focus explicitly on both student diversity and culture. Existing science education reform emphasizes and promotes the concept of 'science for all' however with the growing diversity of K-12 students, coupled with differential science performance among demographic groups; the science education community has fallen short of providing equitable science learning opportunities to "all" students…" Garvin contends that, "To help us reach destination science success we must employ culturally responsive approaches. Culturally responsive teaching should not be seen as a quick fix as it is more than just heroes and holidays. Instead culturally responsive teaching is an active process of thinking, a state of mind, a way of seeing and learning that is shaped and influenced by beliefs of value, cultural relationships, and cultural competency." Upon graduation, Garvin plans to work in the academy as a university professor. Her goal is to coordinate and work closely with K-12 schools, both teachers and students, to improve the quality of science instruction for marginalized youth.

Well done learned scholars. Well done. Your college is proud of you.

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