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A local high school science teacher has achieved national recognition for her teaching

DAVID F. ASHTON - Nationally-honored Franklin High School science teacher Anne McHugh shows a student-built laser fluorometer - made in collaboration with NASA - to digitally count cells in a sample. Over the summer, Franklin High School science teacher Anne McHugh was presented with the "Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators" for her goal of having K-12 students participate in authentic scientific research.

As the school year began, McHugh spoke with THE BEE about the award.

"It feels a little weird – and it also feels like quite an honor – to be the only awardee from the region of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska," McHugh said.

Her recognition came primarily from three projects, all of which involved innovation in environment education, including:

· Using arthropod diversity to measure ecology through arthropod health

· Understanding how microbes drive food production

· Studying Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and using extreme forms of life on earth to show the potential for life on other planets in the universe.

She started as a researcher after "about ten years in academia", McHugh remarked. Her work studying the diversity of arachnids to learn more about ecosystem health led to a high school program in Vermont, before she moved west to teach in Oregon.

"We'll be implementing this program at Franklin High this year; and, it's been taken up by the Portland Metro STEM Partnership," McHugh said. "A lot of students from other schools will collaborate with us here at Franklin -- and I give students the opportunity to do science with scientists, which is pretty novel in kindergarten through 12 grade education!

"So, I'm super excited to be teaching biology at Franklin this year; all twenty sections of biology offered here will be collecting data that will actually be used by NASA scientists, which is pretty cool," McHugh said.

This isn't just for A.P. ("Advanced Placement" studies) students, the teacher pointed out. "I want every student at Franklin to contribute to science research; I think it's really powerful."

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