REBECKA ROCQUIN, 2011 LOUISIANA OUTSTANDING BIOLOGY TEACHER AWARD RECIPIENT
Rebecka Rocquin of Ponchatoula High school in Tangipahoa Parish will be presented with the 2011 Louisiana Outstanding Biology Teacher Award by the National Association of Biology Teachers, in conjunction with Leica Microsystems, Inc. and Biozone. This honor, given annually since 1961, identifies a teacher from each of the United State, its possessions, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Canada who has made valuable contributions to the profession and to his/her students. Criteria for the award include teaching ability, experience, inventiveness, initiative, inherent teaching strengths, and cooperativeness in the school and community.
Rebecka has been a biology teacher at Ponchatoula High School since 2006 and also serves as the science department co-chair. Her teaching career spans 14 years and she has served as a biology curriculum developer for the Louisiana Virtual School. A Louisiana native, she received her Masters of Education and Bachelors of Science degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA.
“Science can only come alive when students are actively engaged in real-life pursuits that interest and challenge them,” explains Rocquin. Every year, her biology students participate in service learning projects involving elementary school students. “These projects provide students with a powerful connection between what they learn and how they can share it with others,” she adds. Technology is an integral part of her classroom and she utilizes interactive multimedia software, digital cameras, classroom response systems and iPods to help students process difficult concepts with engaging visuals.
Rebecka is a member of the National Science Teachers Association and was recognized as the Loranger High School teacher of the year and LACUE Secondary Educator of the year in 2006. She has been the recipient of the Best Buy teach award, the Target Field Trip Grant, and received the ING Unsung Hero award in 2005. “She is an enthusiastic educator who brings her lessons to life,” said Melanie Monistere, curriculum coordinator at Ponchatoula High School.
A special presentation will be given by the National Association of Biology Teachers at its National Convention in Anaheim, CA, in October. In addition to the certificates awarded, Rebecka will be presented with a microscope from Leica Microsystems, Inc., and a year’s complimentary membership in NABT.
Torbotics students worked with groups of campers all week building four different rockets, towers and other scientific designs. Even Hammond students who graduated in May volunteered their time with the camp. “The campers have been amazing,” said Hammond teacher and Torbotics sponsor Shelly Gaydos. “They’ve jumped into every activity with no fear.” They participate in water rockets, straw towers, Minute to Win It games, NASA demonstrations and others.
One activity required campers to use straws, marshmallows and masking tape to build the highest tower they could.
Another used 2-liter bottles halfway filled with water to create pressure and launch as a rocker. They finished the week with a 2-day project where they constructed and launched an engine rocket.
“You could have heard a pin drop during the NASA demonstration,” Gaydos said. “They listened to everything he had to say and asked great questions about the recent launch of the space shuttle afterward.”
Chris Copelan, education program specialist for the John Stennis Space Center, demonstrated how liquid nitrogen works and described what it is used for in rockets on Wednesday.
“When you give students hands-on projects and demonstrations, they’re interested,” she said.
Not only did the kids learn something each day, they had fun the whole time, Principal Chad Troxclair said.
“They’re being problem-solvers,” he said. “My 7-year-old son is in the camp and was telling me how a rocket works.”
NASA will continue to work with the Hammond High Torbotics program with the robotics program in the upcoming school year, Troxclair said.