Science and math teacher Ralph Rise, of Lake Roosevelt High School, was recently selected as the recipient of the 2012-13 Science Champions: Science Education Advocate Award, presented by Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Reform (LASER), a program led by Pacific Science Center, Battelle and Pacific Northwest Laboratories (PNNL).
Science Champions demonstrate passion for advancing science education in innovative ways.
Each year, with support from The Boeing Company, Washington State LASER recognizes five individuals, teams or organizations for excellence in promoting the importance of science education, either among the general public or through the education system.
Rise will receive $5,000, which he plans to turn over to the school’s science department to further future programs.
Rise, the award report stated, is making science resources more accessible to students at Lake Roosevelt, while instilling a desire to obtain a college degree in a science, technology, math or engineering-related field.
In 2009, Rise organized a mentoring program with the University of Washington where his students collaborated with UW professors along with professional scientists for a one-on-one review and help on research proposals and projects.
The projects produced through this program are closely connected to the region’s relevant needs and students’ culture.
The Scrap Power project, where students developed rechargeable batteries for rural villages in Africa, proved to be among the most impactful.
“Before working on the Scrap Power project, I had no clear idea of what I was going to do after school other than just get a job,” said Lake Roosevelt student Abe Batten. “Through the work we have done, it has inspired me to go on to college and try to get a degree in software engineering.”
Rise continues to engage students in STEM projects by encouraging them to explore problems that are significant to them locally and personally.
Some projects by Lake Roosevelt students include a solar-wind-hydroelectric plant, a solar-powered water pasteurization system and a biodiesel processor fueled by waste fish recovered from a local fish farm, that powers a small one-person go-cart.
“Recipients of this year’s Science Champions Awards demonstrate how a variety of individuals can make a difference in high quality science education within their community,” said Sonia Siegal Vexler, interim co-director of Washington State LASER.