For a few lucky teachers, an adventure of a lifetime


A boat in rapids in Grand Canyon

The National Center for Science Education is pleased to accept applications for its third class of Grand Canyon Teacher Scholars. Lucky teachers will be given an all-expenses-paid seat on NCSE's annual Grand Canyon expedition, an eight-day voyage through some of the world's greatest geological wonders. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, giving deserving teachers a hard-earned vacation and an incomparable learning experience.

For over a dozen years, NCSE has chartered a raft trip through Grand Canyon, with staffer Steve Newton currently taking the lead in the unique and tongue-in-cheek "two model" tour of the canyon's geological history. Rafters descend through the strata, considering the hundreds of millions of years revealed on the canyon's walls, and examine how creationists try to explain that same evidence, and why such efforts are doomed to fail.

"The Grand Canyon is the best geology classroom in the world," said Newton, a programs and policy director at NCSE and a geology professor at the College of Marin. "There's no better way to see deep time and explore the processes that shape our Earth than to raft down the Colorado River as it cuts down through the eons, past the Great Unconformity, to rocks almost half the age of the Earth."

"It's a unique experience," Newton added. "Aside from the wonders of the canyon themselves, the winning teachers will have the opportunity to interact with their fellow rafters — a group of people who are extraordinarily passionate about the importance of understanding deep time, evolution, and climate change, and who appreciate the role of science teachers in fostering that understanding."

In a blog post reflecting on his experience during the 2015 Grand Canyon expedition, Scott Hatfield, a high school biology teacher in Fresno, California, commented, "NCSE's Grand Canyon Teacher Scholars program gave me opportunities and experiences that I never would've achieved on my own, and I would make the voyage again in a heartbeat." He described the expedition as "the trip of a lifetime."

"We all want to find ways to honor the amazing work science teachers do, and I'm glad NCSE has this opportunity," explained NCSE executive director Ann Reid. "It'll be exciting to see all the applicants, and to give everyone a chance to help give teachers this spectacular reward." Teachers are encouraged to apply now (the deadline is February 1, 2017), and anyone interesting in helping teachers have this experience can contribute to the scholarship fund.