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Da Vinci Science Center Senior Director David Smith, Ph.D., has been named a recipient of the 2014 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award.
The annual award honors American educators who make extraordinary contributions to the advancement of science education in an informal or nontraditional school setting – such as a museum or science center. Smith is one of two educators who will receive the 2014 award at the NSTA Teacher Awards Gala in Boston, Mass., in April.
Smith is the creator and Director of the Da Vinci Science Center’s professional development programs for educators. Its flagship professional program – known today as the Greater Allentown Math Science Partnership (GAMSP) – has been named one of the 20 best of 630 American programs like it by the U.S. Department of Education.
Smith also chairs the Guiding Coalition of Mentor Allentown – a regional coalition that is developing opportunities to mentor underserved students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. This coalition enabled Allentown, Pa., to become one of 13 finalists in the prestigious US2020 City Competition.
“The Da Vinci Science Center is exceptionally proud of Dr. Smith for earning this richly-deserved honor,” said Lin Erickson, the Center’s Executive Director and CEO. “Dr. Smith has developed one of the best teacher development programs in the nation and has been a driving force in our emergence as nationally-recognized science center. His influence empowers us to connect science to life and lives to science every day in a meaningful way that inspires our next generation of scientific and technical professionals.”
Smith was named the Da Vinci Science Center’s Senior Director of Science and Strategic Initiatives in Oct. 2013, and was named its Chief Scientist in Sept. 2012. Smith joined the Center as its Director of Professional Development in 2002. Smith guides the development of content for its exhibits and programs, validates their scientific accuracy, serves as the Center’s primary spokesperson regarding scientific and technical issues, and leads the implementation of the Center’s strategic plan.
Smith holds a doctorate in Geology from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Ca., and is a former Associate Professor of Geology, Environmental Science, and Physics at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pa. Along with his teaching duties at LaSalle University, Smith served as Director of Academic Operations and interim Director of its Institute for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Teaching (IAMST) from 1994-2001.