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UNI Confers Yager Exemplary Science and Mathematics Teaching Awards

December 5, 2012

Joel Haack, Dean, College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, (319) 273-2725,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Dr. Robert E. Yager and Phyllis M. Yager Exemplary Science and Mathematics Teaching Award, established from the Dr. Robert and Phyllis Yager Science Education Fund for Excellence, recently recognized two Iowa teachers with awards.

This year's recipients are: Matthew Harding, high school physics teacher from Iowa City West High School, and Slade Hovick, high school mathematics teacher from West Liberty High School.  They each received a $3,000 honorarium with the award Hovick, Yager, Harding

The Yager Science Education Fund for Excellence Award recognizes exemplary science and mathematics teaching by University of Northern Iowa graduates. It serves a key role in supporting UNI's leadership of the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership and reflects the importance of private support as part of UNI's "Imagine the Impact" campaign. 

Nominees are selected by UNI faculty members and are UNI graduates in at least their fifth year of teaching in a K-12 classroom. Awardees are selected on the basis of teaching materials and student performance. Nominees are asked to submit a video of their teaching.

Harding graduated from UNI in 2000 with a B.A. in physics teaching and a M.A. in science education with a physics education emphasis in May 2010.  His video lesson was based on a Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students (PRISMS) activity involving Hot Wheels cars and tracks. He restructured the activity to emphasize scientific reasoning and critical thinking.

Hovick graduated magna cum laude from UNI in 2008 with a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and a B.A. in secondary mathematics education.  He specializes in using engaging projects to help students apply and internalize deep mathematical content and concepts.

Robert E. Yager, professor emeritus of science education in the College of Education at the University of Iowa, where he taught for 50 years, received his B.A. degree in biology from UNI in 1950.  Yager went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant physiology from the University of Iowa. He currently works on the National Science Foundation-supported IMPPACT research effort studying the effectiveness of science teacher education programs.