Viera science research teacher attends national conference


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Viera High science research teacher Elizabeth Youngs was one of 200 teachers from around the country selected to attend a national conference in Washington D.C. last month.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Viera High science research teacher Elizabeth Youngs visited Washington D.C. last month for a national conference she hopes will have some long-term benefits for local students.

“I’m just hoping to bring back knowledge to improve our science research program, not only here at Viera High School, but throughout Brevard County,” she said.

Youngs was one of 200 teachers from throughout the country selected for an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital to attend the Research Teacher’s Conference organized by the Society for Science and the Public. The event was sponsored by Regeneron.

In addition to attending several one-hour presentations at the conference, which was held Oct. 13 to 15, Youngs was hoping to do a little networking to gain more knowledge she can use once she returns.

“I’m hoping to meet research teachers from all over the United States and get their input on how they run their programs to get more students involved in our program,” she said.

“My other thing is to see how other areas find mentors, because that’s one of our hard things here. We get students who want to do biology projects and micro-biology projects, which are out of my realm of knowledge. My degree is in earth and space science. Trying to find mentors is a very difficult thing.”

There are 21 students taking science research as an elective at Viera High this year, a number Youngs would naturally like to see increase.

“Students realize that not only do you learn science in it, but you learn how to talk to a judge,” she said. “You learn how to do authentic science research. You learn how to know what sources are true or falsified. You get to be able to present your material, to answer a judge’s questions.

“So let’s say a student doesn’t win a first, second or third place — maybe they win a fourth or a fifth place — they’ve now left science research with the ability for, hopefully, better time management, writing a research paper, doing a literary search and talking to judges.”

In addition to picking up that extra knowledge, Viera’s science research students have done very well in competition.

“Our science research program at Viera has grown over the years,” Youngs said. “We’ve had winners at the local level. We’ve had winners at the state level. And we have had several students go on to the national competition and win various prizes.”