Lori Nelson is committed to STEM education through her classroom instruction, applying for grants, pursuing professional development, creating school STEM events, and sharing ideas with other teachers. She is the sponsor of the Chaffee Greenpower Engineering Team and a lead teacher for the Project Lead the Way engineering program. In 2011 Nelson created Chaffeetopia, an annual STEM festival, which is a space-themed event featuring hands-on science and engineering activities. In 2012 she collaborated with a NASA engineer to create an annual, weeklong curriculum to teach students how to build and launch rockets. Nelson has presented several sessions at the Alabama Science Teachers Association annual conference, the National Science Teachers Association annual conference, and the Space Port Area Conference for Educators. She has received several awards for science education, including the National Science Teachers Association Maitland Simmons Award, the Air Force State Teacher of the Year, the Alabama Science Teachers Association Elementary Science Teacher of the Year, and the National Space Club Educator of the Year. Parent Meghan Nester says, “One of the things that is most impressive to me about Mrs. Nelson, actually happens outside of the classroom. She tirelessly works to expand her own knowledge base and continually have more to offer her students. From summer camps and conferences, to developing a network of local connections that can add to her students’ learning experience, Mrs. Nelson is a true example of a lifelong learner.”
Visit the NSTA website for more information on the Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary School Teachers.