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Juniata Chemist\'s Science Outreach Experiment Yields Educator of the Year Honors

(Posted March 29, 2004)

Don Mitchell, professor emeritus of chemistry and founder of Science In Motion, started the innovative program in 1987.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Donald Mitchell, professor emeritus of chemistry at Juniata College and founder of the college?s outreach program Science in Motion, received the Technology Educator of the Year Award by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania at the group?s annual awards ceremony, held Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg.

?I?m gratified in receiving this award, not so much for myself, but for the many people who have worked with me to make Science in Motion successful,? Mitchell says. ?The teachers at all our client school districts, the Juniata faculty and administration all deserve part of this award.?

The Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the growth and success of the technology community within central Pennsylvania. The group helped support the creation of the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania and publishes the magazine Tech Talk.

Mitchell, who recently retired as director of science outreach, was honored for his work in creating and maintaining the college?s Science in Motion program, which expanded several years ago into the Basic Ed/Higher Ed Science and Technology Consortium, a group of 11 colleges and universities comprised of Juniata, Cedarcrest College, Clarion University, Drexel University, Gannon University, Gettysburg College, Wilkes University, Susquehanna University, Ursinus College, Westminster College and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

?Don Mitchell is not only an excellent teacher but also a visionary educator who saw the need for high-level science education in high schools and created a spectacularly successful program to fill that need,? says Juniata College President Thomas Kepple. ?That Science in Motion has been replicated by several other states and the program has expanded within Pennsylvania is a testament to Don?s vision.?

Mitchell founded the program in 1987 with a $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to bring professional scientific equipment into rural and urban secondary schools. The Juniata program visits more than 25 schools in central Pennsylvania, bringing fully equipped science vans outfitted for biology and chemistry. Each van has a fully qualified science teacher to oversee instruction for the visit.

In 1992, the program received a $1.8 million NSF grant to expand the program into western Pennsylvania and add biology instruction to the Science in Motion curriculum. The program received funding from the state legislature starting in 1998 and in 2000, Pennsylvania appropriated $2 million to expand the program into the 11-member consortium.

Mitchell and Lorraine Mulfinger, associate professor of chemistry and current director for science outreach at Juniata, are working to maintain funding for the program, which recently shut down for about four months during a protracted budget impasse between the state legislature and the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell.

The Science in Motion model that Mitchell created has been used in other states, such as Alabama and Delaware, to create their own science in Motion programs. Alabama created their program in 1994.

Mitchell earned a bachelor?s degree in chemistry from Westminster College in 1960 and earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1965. He joined the Juniata College faculty in 1967 after a stint as a research chemist for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

At Juniata he received the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1986) and earned the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service in 1991. He also received the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation Excellence in Education Initiative Award, and the Chemical Manufacturers Association Catalyst Award.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.