Thornton Student and Hamilton Teacher Chosen as 2016 JASON Argonauts

Cypress, TX (April 12, 2016) Thornton Middle School eighth-grade student Laura Gonzalez and Hamilton Middle School science teacher Kristi Pearson were notified on April 12 of their selection as Student and Educator Argonauts who will take part in a scientific expedition this summer through JASON Learning.

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JASON Learning, the world-renowned science education organization, chose a select group of Argonauts to join the weeklong expedition to the Cape Eleuthera Institute on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas July 15-21. Through a sponsorship from Chevron, they will participate in an intensive hands-on research experience with resident and visiting scientists engaged in a diversity of marine science projects.

Arnold Middle School teacher Adam Schmidtendorff and Cypress Creek High School student Elaine Pham were CFISD’s first pair of Argonauts, conducting hands-on research at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in July 2015.

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Twenty-two of the 2016 Argonaut team spots were reserved for students and educators from the Houston region—including one student and teacher from CFISD. District representatives were asked to apply in January, with applications due in February.

Debra Hill, coordinator of secondary science, visited both Thornton and Hamilton on April 12 with a congratulatory team including Monica Schmidt, coordinator of elementary science; and Tom Jackson, Board of Trustees member.

Pearson, who applied to be an Argonaut last year, is excited to return to the research field.

“As much as I love being in the classroom, I miss a lot of the research I conducted while I was in college,” she said. “Getting to go be back in the field was something I was looking forward to doing. I can’t wait to be in the field and work with researchers. I want my students to be able to make the connection that scientists aren’t just guys in lab coats in the lab; they’re out there in the ocean picking up sea turtles.”

Gonzalez said she learned about the program from teacher Tom Maxwell and decided to apply. Thornton Science Campus Content Instructional Specialist Beth Muyskens and Director of Instruction Helping Teacher Jennifer Seams assisted her with the application process.

“This makes me very happy and surprised because I know there were a lot of good and deserving applicants,” Gonzalez said. “I got really lucky because I love to be in the water. Turtles are one of my favorite animals so I’m looking forward to studying them more. I want to thank Mr. Maxwell, Ms. Seams and Ms. Muyskens because they stayed after school to help me. Because of their help I think I had a stronger application.”

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The JASON Project connects students to real science and exploration to inspire and motivate them to pursue careers in the STEM fields. The curriculum was unveiled in CFISD beginning in 2013-2014, the result of a nearly $250,000 grant from Chevron.

More information on the JASON Argonaut program is available online.

Courtesy of the District