MIT Honors Charlottesville Physics Teacher for Inspiring Students

By: Chris Stover Email
By: Chris Stover Email

May 26, 2014

A teacher at Charlottesville High School has received a prestigious award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, giving him more resources to help his students learn and grow.

Physics teacher Matt Shields won the Inspirational Teacher Award from MIT. He was nominated by a former student.

"It's always an unexpected pleasure and a humbling honor to hear back from them and say that they're enjoying college and they're pursuing physics or engineering because of the experiences they've had with me," Shields said.

Shields also serves as the adviser for BACON, the Best All-around Club of Nerds. It's a science and engineering group at CHS. At its end-of-year picnic on Monday, the kids took advantage of the weather by honoring Shields and taking a look at the work they've accomplished.

"One of the very first projects we ever did was to send a balloon up to space," Sheilds said. "That's high enough where you can see space, you can see the blackness of space and the curvature of earth and the atmosphere."

On Monday, BACON students fired off more rockets -- just for fun. But they also celebrated this new honor for Shields. He's one of just 24 teachers across the country honored.

"I honestly just don't feel surprised at all that MIT wants to honor him because he's worthy of it," said senior Pearl Risberg, the outgoing president of BACON. "Through BACON, you can tell that he really cares as a teacher."

With the award, Shields now has access to a bunch of resources through MIT.

"They know to a science teacher, that's pretty exciting," Shields said. "So as much as I love a good plaque or something like that, or a pen, they know that what's really exciting is to have access to some cool MIT stuff."

As for future plans, Shields said he wants to build a satellite that students hope NASA will send into space. He said they also tried building a drone but soon found out that's illegal.

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