Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Wade Hampton High Physics Teacher Beth Leavitt has been named the Air Force Association (AFA) National Aerospace/STEM Teacher of the Year. The award is presented in partnership with the AFA Aerospace Education Council and Rolls Royce.
This outstanding honor recognizes Mrs. Leavitt’s exemplary achievements in promoting STEM education across Greenville County, including collaborative work with schools and other STEM organizations, and garnering grant funds to use for exciting STEM programs.
Last year, Leavitt worked closely with Furman University Director of Science Education John Kaup and the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute to bring giant Mars maps to Greenville schools. The map depicts the Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter (MOLA) image, which measures the elevation of the surface features of Mars, and it includes the landing locations of NASA Mars robots. The maps can be used to cover topics that include map reading, latitude/longitude comprehension, topographical map comprehension, mission planning, spatial awareness, scale models and other Mars-related lessons.
After working for 12 years as an environmental chemist in the private sector, Mrs. Leavitt decided it was time to ‘come out from behind the microscope’ and become a teacher. “Working as an environmental chemist proved invaluable to me as I use this experience to make me a better teacher,” she said. “I think physics and engineering are great opportunities to show students how relevant science is to the real world. So I take every opportunity to infuse real-world applications into the classroom.”
Mrs. Leavitt was recognized in 2017 as the Space Educator of the Year by the National Space Club. She is director of the WHHS FIRST Robotics Team 283, a part-time employee at Roper Mountain Science Center, and has participated in NASA Workshops with top scientists. As a finalist to become an Educator Astronaut, Mrs. Leavitt is one of 194 teachers who comprise the Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers.
Leavitt has earned certifications in AP Physics and Project-Based Learning. When she’s not teaching or working in robotics, you’ll find her at the Roper Mountain Science Center planetarium, teaching summer camps, or doing outreach at the iMagine STEAM Festival or the Children’s Museum of the Upstate.
Mrs. Leavitt was honored last weekend at the 2018 AFA Delegate Convention in National Harbor, Maryland, where she was presented a $3,000 check and a diamond pin in honor of her accomplishments.