Kenan Fellows Voices: Arthina Blanchard

While interning at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, I felt like an actual scientist. As part of my Students Discover project “Muddy Microbes,” I collected dandelions and soil samples, performed lab procedures and had the chance to work alongside some of the best mentors and doctors in the field of scientific research.

Partnership Power

The Fellow-Mentor partnership is the foundation of the Kenan Fellows Program experience. My degree is in Biology, but I teach math. Hence, I felt that I would not know how or even remember what to do in a laboratory setting. My mentors, Dr. Julia Stevens and Dr. Julie Urban, were so supportive. They are such great teachers who instilled us with confidence.

By the end of our third week in the lab, we were running DNA extractions and creating solutions on our own. One of the most important things that I gleaned from my fellowship is the importance of collaboration.

I loved working with the other middle school educators on my team, Amy Lawson and Laura Cochrane, and our mentors at the museum. We wrote our lesson plans together and worked on the soil project together. I have been determined to incorporate collaborative work within my curriculum this school year.

Passion for Science

My fellowship reignited my passion for science. Science and math are so interconnected that there are numerous ways I can incorporate science within my curriculum. I believe the key component of the Citizen Science module is to engage students and to make them feel like scientists.

This experience has been one of the best experiences of my career. This partnership has enabled me to grow as a professional and to become a more effective educator. Once you become a Kenan Fellow, your entire outlook changes.

2014-15 Arthina Blanchard teaches at East Cary Middle in Wake County. Her project was supported by the National Science Foundation.