Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia education professor Norman Thomson has been named the 2007 College Science Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Science Teachers Association (GSTA).
Thomson, an associate professor in the department of mathematics and science education at UGA’s College of Education, was recognized for ongoing excellence in the teaching of science and for his commitment to its improvement. He and several other science educators will be honored at an awards banquet at the Classic Center in Athens on Saturday, Feb. 17 during the annual GSTA Science and Leadership Conference.
Thomson and his UGA graduate students have created several innovative computer programs to be used in Georgia classrooms. In one program, virtual 3-D gorillas teach students about their movement, diet, social structure and more. In another, the periodic table of the elements comes alive through Visualizing Atomic Structure Through Models (VAST), a system of videos and models designed to support learning.
“Teaching has to focus on the student, so teachers need to learn how to connect to the learner, not just with content but with motivation and enthusiasm,” said Thomson. “To be a science teacher of excellence you must, first of all, love what you are doing and second, share that love with the learner.”
Thomson is currently helping middle and high school teachers in Morgan County integrate the new physical science Georgia Performance Standards into their curriculum for the 2007-08 school year. Over the past several years, he has worked on GSTA outreach initiatives, and he speaks often at GSTA events.
In 2005, Thomson was honored with the Achievement in the Development of Curriculum Award from UGA’s African Studies Institute for his work as co-director of the College of Education’s Kenya study abroad program. In 2002, he was honored with the COE’s Faculty Senate D. Keith Osborn Award for Teaching Excellence.
Thomson earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and taught at the University of New York at Albany before coming to UGA in 1996.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in zoology Thomson worked with the Peace Corps, teaching biology in Uganda and Kenya during the turbulent years after Idi Amin’s military coup in 1971.
Science education “makes the world a very interesting experience,” said Thomson, “especially for those who like to ask questions.”
This is the second time in three years a UGA education professor has been honored by the GSTA. Lynn Bryan was presented with the College Science Teacher of the Year award in 2005.
The Georgia Science Teachers Association is a professional organization dedicated to improving science teaching at all levels, pre-school through university. The group boasts more than 2,000 members including science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists and representatives of business and industry.