News: News Archives
Bob Hirshon, Head of AAAS Media Programs, Wins Science Teaching Honor
Bob Hirshon, senior project director of AAAS Media Programs, has been honored by the Washington Academy of Sciences (WAS) Krupsaw Award for non-traditional teaching.
Hirshon was recognized at a 9 May awards ceremony at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., for his work as executive producer and principal investigator for the Kinetic City project for children. Kinetic City started as a radio program (it still airs today) that won a Peabody Award, then became a McGraw Hill book series, and in recent years has expanded into a Web-based after-school science education program called “Kinetic City: Mission To Vearth.”
“It's a real honor to receive this award, which I see as a tribute to the many people here at AAAS who have worked with me on Kinetic City over the years,” said Hirshon. “For one little after-school program, I think Kinetic City really packs in a lot of fun and learningnot only in science, but in reading, writing, art, physical education and many other areas.”
Besides his work with Kinetic City, Hirshon is executive producer and host of the syndicated AAAS science radio program, Science Update, now in its 19th year. Science Update airs daily on about 50 commercial stations around the country, and occasionally on Westwood One radio network's show "America in the Morning," which airs on hundreds of additional stations. He also created and oversees the Web-based program Science NetLinks, which provides standards-based resources for K-12 science educators, including lesson plans, interactive activities and various Internet resources.
“Bob has re-defined what and how students can be taught,” said Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at AAAS. Malcom, who won WAS 2005 Special Award for Service to Science Education, nominated Hirshon for the award.
Malcom quipped that the success of Kinetic City is based on a subtle trick: “Bait them with the fun and excitement, and then teach them something…even when they have no idea that is what you are trying to do.”
Developed with major funding from the National Science Foundation, today’s Kinetic City is geared toward informal after-school classroom settings and the Internet. It is designed for children aged 8 through 11 and combines exciting online activities with hands-on science experiments, culminating in computer games that test their skill and knowledge. Currently, there are 180 clubs around the country licensed to participate in Kinetic City, and about 30 newly licensed clubs in Singapore.
Each licensed club receives from AAAS a custom Kinetic City Web site and a package of hands-on materials related to 80 activities. The materials are based on AAAS Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy, a nationally adopted statement of what all students should know and be able to do in science, mathematics and technology by the end of grades 2, 5, 8 and 12. In carrying out various activities, students join the Super Crew characters in a battle to save virtual planet Vearth from a science-distorting computer virus named Deep Delete. To save planet Vearth, children in after-school programs form teams and then perform a series of science learning activities.
It takes most clubs two years to complete all the activities, which include 16 different, month-long missions. The missionscovering subjects like planetary science, the human body, forces that shape the earth and electricityinclude computer games, creative writing, arts and physical education. Kinetic City was evaluated in 2005 by an independent assessment group, EduMetrics, of Leesburg, Va., which found substantial gains in knowledge of standards-based science content, as well as significant improvements in reading and writing proficiency.
Kinetic City was recognized for its tremendous accomplishments in 2004 with the Codie Award for Best Elementary Education Instructional Solution, the highest honor in the software industry.
In receiving a WAS award from the Washington Academy of Sciences, Hirshon joins some of the most influential Washington, D.C.-area scientists and science teachers of the modern era, including at least one Nobel Prize winner and leaders from top research and academic institutions.
Besides Hirshon and Malcom, the WAS also recognized Al Teich, director of Science and Policy at AAAS, with the 2004 Award for Scientific Achievement. Teich was honored for his many years of work and influence on the nation’s science policy.
The Academy was founded in 1898 by a group of scientists that included Alexander Graham Bell. The awards have been presented annually since 1940.
16 May 2006