M-A teacher wins presidential award for environmental education


Lance Powell, who teaches environmental chemistry and advanced-placement environmental science at Menlo-Atherton High School, has won a Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education.

Mr. Powell, who said his environmental science class teaches chemistry "through the lens of the environment," was among 27 teachers and 44 students recognized at a White House ceremony July 17.

He aims to makes chemistry relevant for students by relating lessons to the everyday world. Every point in a class is consciously related to real life, he said in an interview.

The award recognizes a teacher's "innovative, hands-on, experiential approaches" to teaching students about the environment, according to an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA notes in particular Mr. Powell's use of the outdoors as a means of spreading environmental literacy.

During his 10 years teaching at M-A, Mr. Powell has led more than 200 field trips, including camping and backpacking trips and visits to creeks and wetlands, waste-water treatment facilities, recycling centers and a power plant, the EPA notes.

He regularly has students collect water from storm water drains -- when it rains -- for an analysis that includes detecting pollutants, determining whether they are within acceptable limits, and determining their sources and their environmental impacts.

With the award, he receives $2,500 for professional training, and M-A receives $2,500 to support its environmental education program.


7 people like this
Posted by Burt
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

This is awesome. As a 5-time dad (and there will be NO MORE) of M-A students, I've always been impressed with the quality of our schools, and awards such as this really help add to my pride in my district. Am particularly pleased that the award comes in an area that there is hopefully growing awareness of - the environment. Congratulations to Mr. Powell and M-A!

1 person likes this
Posted by Jaggi
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Kudos to Mr. Powell and M-A! The school is truly a jewel in our midst.

But not to take away anything from this award, the amount of the award is so tiny that it begs the question, is the government truly interested in the science welfare of our nation?

I am sure the bureaucrats in the selection committee spent more money on themselves while meeting to decide.

I would have expected a larger award with a mandate to teach the teachers for Mr. Powell.

Like this comment
Posted by UrbAnn
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Cool! Our Kids have had Mr Powell and he is a great teacher!

Kudos to Mr. Powell!

Like this comment
Posted by Jane D
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 23, 2015 at 8:47 am


What a great school!

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