Local News

Raleigh science teacher wins presidential award

Posted July 23, 2009 8:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2009 8:20 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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.”