NEGAUNEE - Chuck Delpier's eighth-grade science students know their way around the school's lab room.
"I don't use a textbook, never have," Delpier said. "(Students) hate sitting around in class.
"I wanted to do it and find out by doing it."
From hands-on lab work to monitoring local streams, the students in Chuck Delpier’s middle school science classes at the Negaunee Middle School learn by doing. Delpier was recently named by the Michigan Science Teachers Association the 2010 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year. Here, Delpier speaks to a group of Negaunee Middle School students Tuesday. He has said that he does not know who nominated him for the honor. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Delpier, a teacher at the Negaunee Middle School, was recently named Middle School Science Teacher of the Year for 2010 by the Michigan Science Teacher Association. Each year the MSTA chooses an outstanding elementary, middle and high school science teacher for excellence in science education.
"It's really an impressive group that comes up with journals and materials," Delpier said of the association. "It's nice to be on the fringes of big stuff."
As for who nominated him for the award, Delpier said he didn't have a clue.
"Somebody nominated me. I don't know if it was a teacher, a parent, a kid," he said.
From what students in his classes are saying, it's clear they appreciate his lessons and his teaching style.
"We do activities and it's fun," said eighth-grader Brandon Vilona, 13. "He's good. He deserves (the award). He's a good teacher."
Being able to do hands-on activities in class is one of the favorite parts of science for these students.
"We're always in the lab most of the time," Aubri Romback, 13, said. "We get to do a lot of experiments."
One of the favorite activities for students has been the continued class observation of the nearby Partridge Creek.
Now Delpier's students have the opportunity to organize and carry out their own hands-on project. The class took observations -?like pH readings and oxygen levels -?from Partridge Creek. Now, for extra credit, they can carry out a similar project on a stream of their choosing and then compare their results to what the class found at Partridge Creek in a written report.
"Each of those things (pH level, oxygen level and macroinvertebrate identification) by themselves would be a long project, but all of them together is a colossal project for a middle school student," Delpier said.
The stream comparison is for extra credit to give students who wish to a chance to do a more in-depth project.
"There are some things I want to reserve for kids who just can't get enough of it," Delpier said.
Delpier, along with Gwinn Middle School teacher Kristy Gollakner, spent a week this summer at a program in Colorado developing lesson plans using data and projects being worked on by some of the world's leading scientists. The lesson plans help students understand how scientists can use things like GPS markers to measure the movement of the earth's plates and volcanic activity.
The MSTA is a branch of the National Science Teachers Association.