Clallam library system, state senator named ‘science champions'

Peninsula Daily News - Staff

The North Olympic Library System — which oversees public libraries in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks and Clallam Bay — and Sen. Maria Cantwell will be honored as 2012 “science champions” for supporting science education in the state.

They were among three individuals and two groups who have been named recipients of the 2011-2012 Science Champions: Science Education Advocate Awards by the Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform — or LASER — a program co-led by the Pacific Science Center and Battelle.

Winners will be honored at a luncheon ceremony Thursday, May 10, at 1113 Eighth St. in Seattle.

Each winner will receive $5,000.

The library system's award will go to the North Olympic Library Foundation to support ongoing science-based programs and collections, said Paula Barnes, library director.

Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, has chosen to decline the $5,000 donation, according to the LASER website.

Cantwell received the award for her sponsorship of legislation that provides resources to schools who need help preparing students for future careers, the organization said.

The library system received the award for promoting science education, offering community-based science programs and building a strong collection of science materials.

The library system was nominated by Port Angeles High School science teachers John Gallagher and John Henry, who collaborated with library staff to organize space programming when the library hosted the American Library Association's traveling Visions of the Universe exhibit in fall 2010.

“Port Angeles residents don't have easy access to a planetarium or observatory, so the library brought the science directly to them instead,” Gallagher said.

The library system and Port Angeles School District plan to bring the StarLab planetarium to the library in June, said Barnes and Tina Smith O'Hara, school district spokeswoman.

The two groups are planning another collaborative program in 2014, sponsored by the Port Angeles Friends of the Library, when Ray Troll's Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway geology exhibit will be brought from the Burke Museum to the library, they said.

The library system also is involved in an ongoing partnership with Kindergarten Days at the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, a collaborative after-school program partnership with the Cape Flattery School District in ­Clallam Bay — which often includes science programming — special summer reading club events focused on science and a wide variety of technical and engineering programs, including robot-making.

A recent bequest by a Sequim resident specifically for science and technology materials has helped improve the library's science collection, Barnes said.

The Port Angeles Library has hosted Olympic National Park speakers and is preparing an exhibit of artifacts and artwork celebrating the removal of the Elwha dams.

It also offers monthly Saturday Science at the Library programs, featuring local adults who use science in their daily lives or careers.

Barnes said youth services librarians Jennifer Knight in Port Angeles, Antonia Krupicka-Smith in Sequim and Pam Force in Clallam Bay and Forks are “always on the lookout for ways to inform and inspire kids about science and the role it plays in our daily lives.”

Superintendent of Port Angeles Schools Jane Pryne said the district applauds library staff members “for the partnerships they've developed with Olympic Peninsula resources and our teachers, particularly ones which benefit our youth and local schools.”

Each year, with support from Boeing Co. and Battelle, LASER recognizes five individuals, organizations and/or project teams who have promoted science education.

The other award winners are Kelly Edwards, associate professor at the University of Washington; Mike Town, high school science teacher at Lake Washington School District; and Delta High School.