Robinswood High School science teacher Laura Baumgartner was selected as a recipient of the national Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence. She is one of only four winners in the state of Washington and 30 in the nation.
During a surprise presentation at Robinswood Wednesday, Baumgartner was given the award and a check for $10,000 – half of which will go to the school.
The program was designed by AMGen (Applied Molecular Genetics) to recognize K-12 teachers who have demonstrated creativity in the classroom and have had a significant impact on the learning and interest of the future generation of scientists. The AMGen company has pioneered the development of innovative products based on advances in molecular biology.
“She’s a very creative teacher and definitely an advocate for students,” said Estelle Collins, Robinswood principal. “I’m proud as a peacock and I think she’s very deserving.”
Baumgartner, who received her master’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, worked six years in the Glenbrook School District in Chicago before working for the University of California’s Science Education for Public Understanding Program, which creates innovative science curriculum for use in 6-12 grade education.
She has taught at Robinswood for seven years, during which time she has brought a creative teaching style to the classroom.
As a result of her work with hydrogen fuel cells in class and in collaboration with the University of California, Baumgartner and four of her advanced environmental science students will attend the International Hydrogen Education Forum in Australia this June. The group was selected as the only team from the United States and will learn more about fuel cells and how they could solve global issues with fuel supplies.
She also has an original way of teaching students the basics of science, such as the periodic table.
“We start out with candy,” Baumgartner said. “Students have to sort particles of candy, so when it comes to sorting the elements it is easier for them to relate to.”
In addition, she is working on partnerships with Bellevue Community College and hopes her students will soon be able to do projects with college students.
Half of Baumgartner’s grant money will be used to support Robinswood teachers so they can attend a national science conference next year. She will use the other $5,000 portion for home improvements.
“People keep saying ‘congratulations,’ but the award is not just for me,” Baumgartner said. “I work with such a great team and this reflects everyone who is helping students to succeed.”
Carrie Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.