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O’Neill science teacher named state-level finalist for Presidential Award

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 11:39 a.m. CDT

DOWNERS GROVE – O'Neill Middle School science teacher Meg Van Dyke was named the state-level finalist for the Presidential Award, School District 58 said.

As one of three state-level finalists, Van Dyke is a candidate for the state’s single science Presidential Award, and her application has been forwarded for judging at the national level.

Teachers selected as Presidential Award Finalists will be notified officially by the White House sometime late spring or early summer 2014. Each National Presidential Awardee will receive $10,000 and an all-expense-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., where Presidential Awardees will be honored in a variety of recognition events.

Whether she is writing a grant to have a wind turbine installed on the school’s roof, organizing the school’s hands-on Chemistry Day, or bringing a group of students to compete in a weekend engineering challenge, Van Dyke never stops seeking out ways to inspire her students to appreciate science and to possibly pursue a career in the field, the school district said.

Van Dyke has a doctorate in educational technology and spends her summers teaching, learning and conducting research at Argonne National Laboratory.

She founded the O’Neill Energy Kids Club, which visits District 58 elementary schools to talk about energy conservation and brings along a special bicycle that lights up light bulbs.

Over the past several years, she has applied for and won more than $37,000 in grants for O’Neill from a variety of sources, including BP, the District 58 Education Foundation, and the Kinder Morgan Foundation, according to school district 58.

“It is an honor to be a state finalist for the PAEMST, but any accolades I may receive are the direct reflection of all the teachers who have helped me throughout my journey of convincing middle school students that being a scientist or engineer is something they should strongly consider as a path in life," she said in a press release.

Van Dyke was also named the 2013 Teacher of the Year by the Downers Grove Elementary Education Association.

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