UNCW Youth Programs Director Sue Kezios Wins Outstanding Informal Educator Award

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Sue Kezios is the recipient of a prestigious award from the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center. The organization has named Kezios the 2016 Outstanding Informal Educator in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education.

The Outstanding Informal Educator award honors an educator who, like Kezios, does not teach in a traditional classroom but who excels in engaging children and teenagers in science, math and technology activities. As director of youth programs in UNCW’s Watson College of Education, Kezios oversees a variety of ventures designed to spark interest in STEM-related topics and increase young people’s understanding of science concepts.

“Over my nearly 25 years in higher education in two states, seldom if ever have I seen a colleague whose work and leadership have created the levels of quality at the scale of impact I have observed in Sue Kezios’ efforts,” said Van Dempsey, dean of the Watson College of Education. “I have no doubt that there are considerable numbers of young people engaged in STEM learning across their educations due to the influence of Dr. Sue Kezios on their experiences.”

NCSMT is a nonprofit organization in Research Triangle Park that seeks to engage students in STEM-related education and to promote “essential cognitive skills for the 21st century.” Its goals include inspiring students to  learn beyond textbooks and the classroom.

Kezios grew up in rural Maryland and earned her Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. After working in research, she turned her sights to concerns about science education in the United States. In collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, she created a hands-on science program for children, KinderScience. She was named director of youth programs at UNCW in 2006.

The Department of Youth Programs sponsors educational ventures for children ages 5 to 17, including MarineQuest, Engineering Expectations and a variety of summer and school-year learning experiences. The department also is involved with the upcoming 2016 UNCW STEM Expo in April, which will see faculty, students and staff running hands-on learning stations on campus for young people and their families.

The award comes with a $1,000 prize, and Kezios will be honored at the annual Celebration of Science, Mathematics and Technology.

-- Tricia Vance