Thursday, May 21, 2015

Two Picked for Jason Learning Science Program in the Bahamas

Spring Woods MS teacher Jessica Licarione (left) and Spring Oaks MS student
Blondine Delva (right)
This summer will be a learning adventure of a lifetime for Spring Branch ISD eighth-grader Blondine Delva and district teacher Jessica Licarione. Both are busy planning for sun, sand, gentle surf and real science!

The Spring Oaks Middle School student and seventh-grade science instructor at Spring Woods Middle School were selected recently to study with a team of prestigious scientists as part of a hands-on science expedition in the Bahamas.

Exploring underwater ecosystems, caves and underground tunnels, and tagging wild marine species are some research experiments that Blondine and Jessica will experience this July as part of the JASON Learning curriculum created to engage students in scientific exploration through an active learning environment.

Watch inside JASON Learning @ SBISD >>

On Thursday, May 21, the SBISD student and teacher joined 18 additional JASON National Argonauts, as they are called, and family members for a reception held in the Wayne F. Schaper, Sr. Leadership Center’s Board of Trustees Meeting Room.

At the reception, the Houston area Argonauts and guests heard remarks from Patti Pace, SBISD associate superintendent for teaching and learning, as well as Joni Baird, who is Chevron manager of policy, government and public affairs, and Dr. Eleanor Smalley president and CEO of JASON Learning.  Steve Shorter, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, gave the welcome at the reception.

2012 Argonaut expedition
Also scheduled to speak at the reception were National Argonaut Alumni students Allie Eggert of Memorial High, a junior, Fredy Corrales, a junior, and Chase Gonsoulin, a sophomore, both of Northbrook High. Northbrook Middle sixth-grade science educator Sheena Guevara, who is a past teacher Argonaut, was also scheduled to speak.

Blondine and Jessica will travel to the Bahamas on a research trip the last week of July. They were selected through a competitive application process and their work on the expedition is designed to help students learn how scientific research can be applied in real-world settings, how to identify invasive species and their impact on the environment, and the importance of marine life conservation.

During the expedition at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, every day will be an adventure. Blondine and Jessica, along with other Houston Area Student and Teacher “Argonauts” will spend their days on exciting outdoor excursions such as cliff jumping into the Atlantic, joining interactive field educational lessons, exploring the wide range of the island’s scenic bodies of water, and documenting their experience on blogs and social media for other students in the community to follow.

Argonauts on a past research expedition
In the Houston area, 10 teams of student and teacher “Argos” are joining JASON Learning as part of a collaborative public-private partnership underwritten by Chevron looking to help our metropolitan community develop a sustainable and systematic solution to the need for high-quality effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment that Blondine and Jessica were selected to participate in this rich, hands-on experience alongside world-class scientists,” said Ro Luecken, who is JASON grant coordinator in SBISD and a district instructional specialist. “They will return from their journey to serve as ambassadors to the idea that STEM is fun and exciting. Blondine and Jessica will become role models to other students and educators who will aspire to be the Argonauts of the future.”

Chevron Public Affairs Manager Joni Baird said that the U.S. energy corporation is proud to invest in JASON Learning, which she called as a flagship STEM program in Houston. “The program connects students with real science and exploration to inspire and motivate them to study and pursue STEM careers,” she said.

“With the number of STEM jobs continuing to grow in Houston, creating a strong STEM foundation in our public schools is critical to U.S. global competitiveness, to our ability to create good jobs and to the overall economic strength of our great community,” Baird also said. 

“Our Argonaut Program connects students and educators with real scientists to teach and inspire a love of exploration and inquiry, promote self-confidence, and develop leadership skills,” said Dr. Smalley, JASON Learning president. “Thanks to Chevron vision the Houston area is developing new ways of teaching and learning in STEM and JASON is happy to part of that model.”

Since 1990, JASON’s National Argonaut Program has provided hands-on, scientific field work to more than 460 students and educators worldwide, many of whom have gone on to pursue STEM degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

JASON provides multimedia curricular experiences for students in kindergarten to 12th grade and corresponding professional development for educators in a variety of formal and informal education environments.

In independent evaluations across the country, JASON Learning has been shown to increase student interest, motivation, and achievement in STEM; increase student interest in and knowledge about careers in STEM; and increase educators’ science content knowledge, confidence, and ability to teach science effectively. Reaching over 2 million students annually, JASON’s programs are used in all 50 states and in more than 170 countries.

About JASON Learning
JASON Learning is an independent 501(c)(3) organization. Named for the mythological Greek explorer, JASON is a nationally acclaimed, exploration-based program that links students—inside the classroom and out—to real science and scientists through technology-intensive, inquiry-based curricular experiences. Learn more at


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