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DVMS science teacher selected for Society for Science Advocates Program

DVMS science teacher selected for Society for Science Advocates Program
Christian Aleman-Rodriguez

Del Valle Middle School science teacher Jeffrey Charles was selected as one of only 100 educators to participate in the Society for Science Advocate Program for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Entering its ninth year, the program empowers educators to help their students complete scientific research projects that are entered into STEM competitions and fairs, guiding the next generation of STEM professionals. Selected educators receive professional development and year-round support from the Society to enhance opportunities for students.

By supporting students in STEM research competitions and fairs, selected educators help increase student self-confidence, develop their communication skills, and help them apply scientific thinking to the world around them. 

As an Advocate, Jeffrey will receive a $3,000 stipend to increase participation in science-related programs this school year. He also traveled to Washington, D.C. in June to attend the Advocate Training Institute. There, Advocates met in cohorts for group discussions and numerous educational topics. 

“It was just a great opportunity to learn about cool science ideas and stuff. Like this year, I'm super excited because I can bring ideas I got out of training and suggest them,” Jeffrey said. 

Now in his sixth year of teaching at DVMS, Jeffrey said he’s looking forward to expanding his science fair group with the funding and getting more students involved in the regional science fair that leads to the state competition. He is also making an effort to get more middle school departments involved in the competition, like Robotics, to extend the opportunity to more students. 

“My goal was to get between two to five students interested this year, and I'm already at seven,” he said. So that's pushed me, but I'm still trying to get robotics to do a project, at least one or two team projects so that we can compete in different categories.”

He’s excited to help students tap into their curiosity about the world around them and use scientific inquiry to answer questions like, “How much potassium is in a banana?” or “How clean are the lakes in the Austin area?” and grow their self-confidence along the way. 

“We get the kids who you don’t think would do it, the ones who live in their own bubble. They're super quiet in class, but they were able to get out of their comfort zones and answer questions for hours at a competition. That’s the biggest thing I took away from last year. I think it's very rewarding seeing them,” he said.

Jeffrey has had students participate in and advance in the regional competition in the past several years. He has overseen the science fair group and hopes to prepare students to qualify for the state competition and build the pipeline for science fair participation from middle school to high school.