Congratulations to the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Award Winners

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Congratulations to the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Award Winners

This year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) is excited to announce that four educators with connections to Camp Invention® have been awarded the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

First established by Congress in 1983 and administered by the National Science Foundation, this award represents the highest distinction the United States government can offer science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and/or computer science educators. Limited to 108 winners each year from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, the award recognizes some of the most innovative and knowledgeable teachers in their discipline.


Unified in purpose

Much like PAEMST’s goal to recognize teachers who have “the ability to motivate and enable student success,” part of NIHF’s mission is to encourage and motivate students from across the country through our education programs. Because all our K-12 offerings are inspired by the lessons and stories of revolutionary NIHF Inductees, they have the unique ability to show kids their own innovative potential.

Research from Opportunity Insights supports the effectiveness of this approach, and in a recent study, found that children who are exposed to innovators are more likely to innovate as they grow older. Because the STEM industry at large continues to struggle with a lack of diversity, exposure to a wide variety of STEM role models from an early age can play a significant role in correcting these unfortunate statistics.

Because the world continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, educators know that passive teaching techniques focused on lectures and extensive testing are inadequate. Instead, an active, hands-on approach to learning that embraces 21st-century skill development is what will best prepare today’s children for the jobs of tomorrow. The National Science Foundation agrees, and as a part of their larger Next Generation Science Standards initiative, focuses on the importance of promoting experiences that stimulate student interest and engagement in the science fields.


Congratulations to all the 2019 PAEMST recipients!

Among this year’s amazing winners were four individuals with connections to NIHF and our flagship summer program, Camp Invention:

  • Karla West, Camp Invention Director at Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Maryville, Tennessee
  • Dianna McDowell, 11-year Camp Invention Director from Old Donation School in Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Melissa Follin, 2018 Camp Invention Instructor from Old Donation School in Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Cheri De Soto, Former Camp Invention Director from Holt Middle School in Fayetteville, Arkansas


Learn more about NIHF and Camp Invention today

Thanks to our education team’s extensive 20-month curriculum development process, each summer, NIHF is able to offer a brand new Camp Invention program directly inspired by our world-changing Inductees. To learn more, we encourage you to visit our website.

Read below to discover what recent PAEMST winners have to say about Camp Invention!


"I have worked with Camp Invention as an Instructor and as a Director for the past 10 years. I must say that I have never been disappointed with the quality of the curriculum, materials, and the support each and every year. Our feedback from families is that this camp is life-changing for the students. They are energized the week of the camp and then leave with a new focus and drive toward seeing the world through different lenses. They look at current technology and see room for improvement. They look at problems and know how to search for solutions.”

Karla West
5th Grade Teacher

Coulter Grove Intermediate School, Tennessee


“Camp Invention was part of my teaching career from my very first year and helped shape me as a teacher in the 11 years I directed the program. One of the aspects that was impactful for me was the joy of discovery and challenge without students being concerned about grades, but truly investing for the intrinsic reward of collaboratively finding solutions. I enjoyed mentoring former students to serve as Leadership Interns and helping them learn to facilitate divergent thinking, while also learning how to promote consensus building.”

Dianna McDowell
8th Grade Teacher

Old Donation School, Virginia

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