May 2, 1997
Chemistry Prof Cited for Teaching Excellence
UW-River Falls chemistry Professor Marilyn Duerst has been awarded the 1997 Wisconsin Society of Science Regional Award for Excellence in Science Education.
Duerst was presented with a plaque and a year's membership to WSST at the organization's state convention in Milwaukee on April 1.
"I am very pleased and honored to have received this award. It has been very exciting and rewarding to work with so many school districts and elementary teachers in making a transition from book-centered to hands-on learning," said Duerst.
Duerst received the award based upon her contributions and involvement in science education in many area Wisconsin and Minnesota school districts over the past 10 years. Duerst's summer hands-on science workshops have improved science curricula throughout the 27 participating districts by helping teachers create an active and inquiry-based learning environment.
Duerst began teaching in the 1960s at the University of California at Berkeley. She has since taught at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the University of Minnesota, Regis High School in Eau Claire, and District One Technical Institute in Eau Claire. She has taught chemistry at UW-River Falls from 1981-1984 and continuously since 1986.
Since 1989, Duerst has been the project director for two major National Science Foundation Teacher Enhancement Grants for area elementary teachers, totaling over $700,000. Duerst has also played an active role in "College Camp" and "College for Kids" summer programs for Wisconsin children.
As "Madam Wizard," Duerst has given science presentations to over 7,000 elementary school children over the past eight years, and has been active in helping Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H children earn science badges.
In 1986, Duerst designed a unique class for elementary education majors that she teaches at UW-River Falls. This course teaches practical concepts that can be applied in K-8 curriculum. Duerst developed a lab manual for the class, which uses common materials available in supermarkets or drugstores.
WWST awards selection committee co-chair Don Bogdanske noted the award was presented to Duerst for her demonstrated excellence in education, innovative teaching methods, and the desire to improve and enhance the curriculum.
"Professor Duerst is considered by her peers, as well as the WWST recognition committee, as an outstanding educator in the area of science."