Peterson passes science with flying colors

Eleanor "Ellie" J. Peterson, a sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher at Seattle Country Day School, was one of four Washington educators to receive this year's Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence. The recipients were honored at a dinner at the Columbia Tower Club on May 10.

The award - comprised of a $5,000 unrestricted cash gift to each winner, and a restricted grant of $5,000 to their respective schools for science education - is given annually to recognize extraordinary contributions by teachers from public or private schools across the United States who are elevating the level of science literacy through creativity in the classroom and motivation of students.

Peterson, the only honoree from Seattle, became passionate about science while in high school working as a tutor for younger students. At Seattle Country Day, she leads her students through an inquiry-based curriculum, with such class activities as building edible cell models, solving staged "crimes" with forensics and identifying mystery sand samples.

Peterson completed her master's at the University of Washington with a focus on science curriculum and instruction. She has participated in the UW's Physics Education Group Summer Institute for three years, given presentations at the America Association of Physics Teachers conference and helped teach science workshops for elementary school teachers.

About her selection as an Amgen honoree, Peterson says, "I feel fortunate to work in a community that applauds the outstanding efforts of its teachers on a regular basis. I have to thank Amgen for providing an award that not only benefits me but the science program at our school as well."

An independent panel of judges selects the winners based on creativity of teaching methods, effectiveness in the classroom, plans for use of the grant money to improve science education resources in their schools, submission of an innovative science lesson plan showcasing innovative methods in the classroom and a strategy for sharing the lesson plan with other teachers.

Since the inception of the Amgen award, the company has awarded close to $1.5 million to public and private school science teachers in communities where Amgen operates. Nominations are solicited every fall, and more information is available at

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