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Scientist in Every Florida School
Posted 12/16/20

Karen Bruening, an Earth and Space Experimental Science and Engineering teacher at Pensacola High School, has been named the Scientist in Every Florida School Superstar Teacher of the Quarter. Each quarter, the award recognizes one outstanding K-12 public school teacher in Florida for going above and beyond to share their passion for teaching science:

 

The Scientist in Every Florida School is a statewide award that is gifted quarterly to only one teacher. The SEFS team awards a plaque plus $250 to honor a K-12 Florida public school teacher that goes above and beyond to share their passion for teaching science through SEFS related content related to earth systems - air, water, land and life. This quarter, the winner - Karen Bruening - received this recognition based on the following criteria:

  • Ongoing collaborations with scientist(s)
  • Lesson development with scientist(s)
  • Participation in live and virtual classroom events
  • Participation in SEFS professional development opportunities

Karen participated in the SEFS week long professional development workshop in July where she was assigned to work with University of Florida Scientist, Dr. Kurtis Gurley. Throughout the week, they planned a lesson for Karen to bring back to her classroom. Although postponed due to extreme weather, Dr. Gurley had a virtual session with Karen’s students to introduce a project for them. They are expected to build a “hurricane house.”  With given materials, students must create a home that can withstand strong weather conditions. Their buildings will then be brought to Dr. Gurley’s lab and tested in the wind tunnel under hurricane force wind speeds.  The wind tunnel was designed by the University of Florida’s Powell Family Structure and Materials Laboratory. The machine, created to assist with hurricane research, evaluates the way extreme winds interact with man-made infrastructure. The scientists will make additional visits to Bruening’s students throughout the school year.

 

In addition to her routine teaching duties, Karen Bruening is the sponsor of an engineering club that competes in competitions — so creating an opportunity for students to learn from these scientists was a perfect fit.  The scientists will make additional visits to Ms. Bruening’s students throughout the school year.

“Karen is a teacher who really cares about her students and pushes herself to become a better teacher.”