After a variety of interesting and unusual jobs, Kirk Beckendorf
realized that teaching was his
passion in life.
For seventeen years, he has taught science to middle school students and is now spending his second year as an Einstein Fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
says that a middle school teacher should expect their students to be bouncing off the walls.
doesn't try to contain that energy; instead he
utilizes it to facilitate an excitement for learning.
students as being actively engaged, out of their seats, building, designing, or discussing their ideas and thoughts.
doesn't like a silent classroom.
approach apparently works as he
has coached award winning teams of students at state Robotics and Science Olympiad contests and his
former students are now working in Congress and, literally, as rocket scientists for NASA
was chosen as an Albert Einstein Fellow with the 2008-2009 class and was selected by NOAA's
Office of Education.
He began working with the Environmental Literacy Grants Team to help develop and plan future funding opportunities and he has led the effort to evaluate the office's historic grants portfolio.
also edited NOAA's
2009 Strategic Education Plan and reviewed the public comments as they were submitted.
sponsor asked him to stay a second year to help develop a new NOAA Education website.
During this second fellowship year, he
is significantly involved in the website's design and development.
organized a focus group of teachers (including Einstein Fellows) to help guide this process and he
also performed a literature review of the research on teacher use of websites and the efficacy of education websites.
As a result he
wrote a white paper to guide NOAA's
online education resources.
As a member of the NOAA Outreach Team, Beckendorf has been an exhibiter and presenter at all eight of the NSTA conventions over the last two years.
Presentation topics have included Climate Change, Coral Reefs, the Teacher At Sea Program, and using NOAA Data in the Classroom.
In addition, he was asked to be a member of the Hurricane Awareness Tour, flying onboard (and actually flying) a NOAA Hurricane Hunter P3-Orion aircraft.