Hoover Science Educator Named Teacher of the Year by Air Force Association’s Des Moines Chapter

Mark Schnurstein, Hoover High School ninth grade earth science teacher, has been named Teacher of the Year by the Air Force Association General Horner Chapter of Des Moines.

Schnurstein, who has been teaching in Des Moines Public Schools for six years, was chosen for the award because of his efforts to use materials and concepts from NASA and other aviation resources in his classroom, which stimulate student interests in the study of science, technology, engineering, and math. He was nominated for the award by Jay Staker of Iowa State University Extension Services.

Tonight, Schnurstein will receive his award at the General Horner Chapter meeting. His award includes a Certificate of Excellence, an AFA tote bag, a complimentary Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Certificate, and a check for $250.

“It is a great honor to be chosen for this award and nominated by someone outside of the school district who took notice of some of the great things we do here in Des Moines,” said Schnurstein. “This award is special because I worked with Mr. Staker on the NASA Explorer Schools project, and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. Things like this only happen when you have great people to work with, and when we all support each other we can give our students many opportunities to be successful.”

Schnurstein has built a partnership with NASA on various projects over the past six years. He became a MESSENGER Educator Fellow while teaching at Harding Middle School and trained teachers on using curriculum developed by NASA and other space agencies for NASA’s mission to Mercury. MESSENGER ((MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) was only the second spacecraft to travel to Mercury.

“Mr. Schnurstein came to Hoover last year and has already made his mark on the building,” said Doug Wheeler, principal at Hoover High School. “His passion for teaching and science has led to the development of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) academy as well as Hoover becoming a NASA Explorer school. We are excited to have such a dynamic teacher on our staff working with students every day.”

As a MESSENGER Educator Fellow, Schnurstein provided his students at Harding Middle School with the opportunity to see science technology, mathematics, and engineering in a different light and consider careers in those fields. He is currently working with a team of teachers at Hoover High School to implement a similar program at the school. Two Des Moines high school students have been selected to participate in NASA’s INSPIRE program (Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience) and could be rewarded by interning with NASA officials.