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Dana Haine teaching students
Dana Haine, K-12 Science Education Manager with the UNC Institute for the Environment, talks with participants during a conference at the North Carolina Botanical Garden titled “Exploring the Future of the Electric Grid” on June 20, 2017, in Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dana Haine, the K-12 science education manager for the UNC Institute for the Environment’s (IE) Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES) recently was recognized by the North Carolina Science Teachers Association (NCSTA) with a non-school setting distinguished service award for her contributions to science education in North Carolina over her 25-year career.

Haine received the recognition at NCSTA’s Professional Development Institute on Nov. 3. The Institute is an annual, two-day conference for teachers that promotes excellence in science teaching and learning in the state. Haine, who has attended and presented at the conference since 2003, was humbled to get the recognition.

“I recognize that this isn’t just an award for me, but it’s reflective of the supportive environment within CPES and the Institute for the Environment,” Haine said. “IE is seen as an entity that provides high-quality, science-rich professional development to teachers on a variety of environmental issues ranging from energy to water quality.”

Haine joined the UNC Institute for the Environment in 2007 and has been building a portfolio of informal science education programs for middle and high school science teachers and students, which regularly feature environmental science research taking place at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Dana is an outstanding science educator, who meets people where they are, with openness, curiosity, and creativity, and then entices them to come along with her in an exploration of the meaning and importance of science in our daily lives. I know she will continue to influence the science education community, in NC and beyond,” wrote Kathleen Gray, director of the Center for Public Engagement with Science, in her nomination letter.

Haine and colleagues in CPES and the UNC Superfund Research Program worked closely with Monica Strada, a teacher who received the District 3 Outstanding High School Science Teacher award at the NCSTA conference. Strada worked with CPES to develop and pilot a digital interactive notebook on arsenic exposure, highlighting current scientific research and mapping tools to engage students in learning about arsenic-contaminated drinking water in the state.

“Monica helped us respond to the remote learning that happened during the pandemic,” said Haine. “She helped us to pivot some of our deliverables to make them conducive to a remote learning environment.”

Building on her repertoire of high-quality teacher professional development, Haine recently hosted 19 science educators from across the state for a daylong workshop in the U.S. EPA’s Human Studies Facility at UNC-Chapel Hill to learn about the latest research on the health effects of vaping.

Haine partnered with UNC’s Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) and BioNetwork, a part of the North Carolina Community College System, which promotes biotechnology and life science industry skills among K-12 and community college students.

EPA Demonstration

Participants were given access to lessons and hands-on activities developed for students to explore and refine their knowledge of fundamental biology concepts while communicating the risks of using e-cigarettes. They also observed researchers who are studying the effects of e-cigarette aerosols on lungs. They saw a demonstration of the Vaping Product Exposure System (VaPES), which is used to study the effects of exposure to e-cigarette aerosols on lung cells, and other equipment used to study exposure on mice.

“Educators are catalysts for inspiring interest in science and promoting science literacy among adolescents and young adults,” said Meghan Rebuli, who presented at the workshop and is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology. “When we bring educators into our labs, we help prepare them to expose students to science that is relevant to their daily lives. We also demonstrate that the scientific process is continuous, and often messy, and that skills in data interpretation will serve their students in whichever career they choose.”

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