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Raleigh science teacher wins presidential award

Posted July 23, 2009

— Research shows that students start to lose interest in science as early as the third grade. One Wake County teacher is fighting that trend. Her ability to keep students interested in science has won her national recognition.

Raleigh teacher wins presidential award Raleigh teacher wins presidential award

The kids of Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh are out for the summer, but teacher Carol Wooten is already planning for the fall and how she'll approach her favorite subject.

“Science is more than just using a textbook. Science is hands-on. It’s inquiry-based,” she said.

Wooten puts that philosophy into practice with her fifth-graders at Hunter. Students use science notebooks to design experiments, test theories and come up with conclusions.

“We don’t provide them the answers. We let them discover the answers,” she said.

Wooten’s efforts were rewarded recently when she was named a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science. Winners were notified by e-mail, but Wooten missed it. She was busy giving birth to her first child.

“I was a little otherwise occupied at that point,” she said.

The presidential teaching award comes with $10,000. Wooten says she plans to use some of that money to buy classroom laptops.

Wooten said her students have kept her occupied and motivated for the past 12 years.

“You come in and the kids go, ‘(I) hope I’m doing science today.’ (I say), ‘This is a science day,’ and they all say ‘Yes!’ So, that’s fulfilling to see,” Wooten said. “We’re not going to find a cure for cancer by reading about it. We have to actually get in there and do something. So that’s what we’re working on with our kids, is making sure they have those experiences.”


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  • NCTeacher Jul 23, 2009

    Congratulations to Mrs. Wooten!

    It is so sad to me that there are only 15 comments on this story, but if it was something negative about a teacher there would be hundreds of comments. That tells me that most of the public doesn't want to hear anything good about teachers

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Jul 23, 2009

    Congrats to Carol Wooten! Great job!

    For those interested in current science topics: NPR Science Friday at http://www.sciencefriday.com/

  • Mags Jul 23, 2009

    Thank you Ms Wooten.

  • mrschizzy Jul 23, 2009

    "...instead of listening to people like Rush to interpret things like global warming and stem cells." - scientistjo

    This was a nice story that has nothing to do with politics...it was not necessary to interject such biased, political garbage. There are plenty of real-life scientists out there who do not believe global warming is the issue that some have made it out to be. I am a scientist by education AND trade and yet I also believe that there is a spiritual and moral component to science and that those limits should not be interfered with. Someone like Rush may believe in that, too, but that doesn't make us inferior to people like you...

  • bonnnie Jul 23, 2009

    Congrats! Sounds like you are doing a great job. The schools need more teachers like you.

  • leo-nc Jul 23, 2009

    Congrats to you Carol. Your story reminds me of my favorite teacher ever, Mrs. Waldrop. What she taught me in life has stayed with me since the day I met her as a child. I will never forget those wonderful lessons. You should be proud that you will have so many students who will carry those same feelings about you. They will never forget you, and in the years to come, they will appreciate the life lessons that you are teaching them right now. Keep up the good work. We're proud of you!!!

  • scientistjo Jul 23, 2009

    This is great! It would be great to have a generation that knows how science works and can analyze data and results...instead of listening to people like Rush to interpret things like global warming and stem cells.

    Also, "Even his AG classes don't challenge him as much as we would like." Chrismill, you can also challenge your child..but I'd be willing to bet that h/she is being challenged plenty and is actually just not that into it and you're blaming the system.

  • Roland K. Jul 23, 2009

    As a Wake County teacher, I am proud of Carol's accomplishments. We have terrific teachers and programs in our schools: parents and students, work together with these educational opportunities in order to better yourselves on all fronts.

  • Nunya123 Jul 23, 2009

    Can we get her to come to our school and show them how to do it? We have great teachers, but it seems as though some of the sciences and math programs are a little lacking. My son is very interested in the sciences and math, but gets bored in his current classes. Even his AG classes don't challenge him as much as we would like.

  • jrfergerson Jul 23, 2009

    Congratulations to you Ms. Wooten - more teachers like you might make a difference in our children's education.