By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Kate Eisele, a biology teacher at Lone Peak High School, is now one of five winners of a program run by Advancing Science Research Teaching and funded by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. This follows her receiving a grant from the Society for Science & the Public back in December 2020, which provided STEM research kits for students in underserved communities nationwide.
On March 27, Eisele received an email from Michael Blueglass, director of the ASRT program, informing her of the award, her second STEM award of the year. ASRT is a national educational outreach program that aims to increase the number and quality of programs, courses and clubs that provide science research opportunities to high school students. Eisele applied back in November of 2020 after hearing about ASRT through a Society for Science & the Public email newsletter.
“Your application made it clear that you are a very dedicated, enthusiastic educator focused on making a difference in the lives of your students,” Blueglass said in his congratulatory email.
Eisele comes from a family of teachers—six generations back on her dad’s side, and three generations on her mom’s side. She earned her teaching credential 11 years ago and she now teaches a ninth-grade biology course, junior and senior level Diploma Program biology, and an International Baccalaureate class called Theory of Knowledge.
As part of being one of the five finalists in the program, Eisele will receive an intensive week of customized consulting sessions with Blueglass who founded the program. Blueglass will travel to Montana the week of Aug. 25 to work with Eisele on developing new ideas for science research opportunities at LPHS with the ultimate goal of sending students to the International Science Fair.
“I’m hoping it’ll really help me build a culture where scientific research is something that kids are going to be able to add to their college applications, that they participated in the regional science fair and maybe they qualified to go to the International Science Fair, which is a pretty prestigious event to attend,” Eisele said.
ASRT was started by Blueglass, in partnership with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, based on a successful science research program he ran as a teacher in Westchester County, New York for 25 years. At first, Blueglass was offering his services as a consultant and visiting schools in his county to help them build their programs. Then, Blueglass partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to fund the program and now he travels across the U.S. to work with the five finalists of the program each year. This year, in addition to five finalists who receive a week of in-person consulting, Blueglass said they added five semi-finalists who receive two days of virtual consulting.
The relationship doesn’t stop after the allotted week or two days. Blueglass explained that the consulting will then turn into a long-term mentorship where he will keep in touch with winners and continue advising them. His goal for the initial consulting is to provide teachers with actionable ideas, activities and strategies they can use immediately.
“My whole model is the opposite [of what is standard,]” Blueglass said. “It’s building skills, scientific thinking skills, presentation skills, and then carrying out a science fair project, because I know those skills will last kids a lifetime.”
Eisele expressed excitement to work with Blueglass and to start applying his knowledge to grow science programs at LPHS.
“I’m excited to learn from him,” Eisele said. “He’s got a lot of experience and a lot of resources to share and he is somebody that I would seek to emulate, he sent kids to the International Science Series every year of his teaching career but one.”
“She’s wonderful, enthusiastic, dedicated and she’s going to make a difference, she already does and she’s going to continue to,” Blueglass said of Eisele. “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”