Thornton student, Aragon teacher chosen as 2018 Jason Argonauts

March 9, 2018

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Aimy Mattox (center), Aragon Middle School science teacher, is surprised after it was revealed she was selected as CFISD’s Educator Argonaut who will take part in a scientific expedition in Nicaragua in July through JASON Learning. Debra Hill (left), coordinator of secondary science, and Maria Mamaux, Aragon principal, were among district and campus personnel who surprised Mattox in her classroom March 8.

March 9, 2018—Thornton Middle School eighth-grade student Kasey Hasan and Aragon Middle School science teacher Aimy Mattox were notified in separate surprise ceremonies March 8 of their selections as Student and Educator Argonauts who will take part in a scientific expedition this summer through JASON Learning.

JASON Learning, the world-renowned science education organization, chose a select group of Argonauts to join expeditions. Hasan and Mattox will join an expedition to the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, scheduled for July. Through a sponsorship from Chevron, they will participate in an intensive hands-on research experience with resident and visiting scientists engaged in a diversity of projects and activities.

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Thornton Middle School Principal Reginal Mitchell (left) congratulates eighth-grade student Kasey Hasan after it was revealed he was selected as CFISD’s Student Argonaut and will take part in a scientific expedition in Nicaragua in July through JASON Learning. Hasan’s father, Haider Elias (center), was part of the group that surprised Hasan in his science class March 8.

Twenty-two of the 2018 Argonaut team spots were reserved for students and educators from the Houston region – including one student and teacher from CFISD.

Debra Hill, coordinator of secondary science, visited both Mattox and Hasan with congratulatory teams including administrators from each campus, Evelyn Shephard, district middle school science curriculum coach, Monica Schmidt, coordinator of elementary science curriculum, and Tom Jackson, Board of Trustees member.

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Debra Hill (left), CFISD coordinator of secondary science, announces Thornton Middle School eighth-grade student Kasey Hasan was selected as CFISD’s Student Argonaut to his classmates in their science class March 8. Hill, Thornton administrators and Hasan’s father were among those who surprised Hasan, who will take part in a scientific expedition in Nicaragua in July through JASON Learning.

“JASON provides a life-changing opportunity not only for our students but also our teachers,” said Jackson, who is part of the decision-making team and read essays from those vying for the two coveted spots. “Our teachers – and I’ve seen it happen – go and they were good before but they’re magical when they come back. They now have a vision that is greater than what they had before. They have an energy, they have an excitement and that love of science is contagious.”

Said Hill: “To know today that the student who got chosen is one of those profoundly hopeful people who takes action to serve others makes it even more special. It’s not just about the science anymore. It’s personal. It’s about how science can add value and help others.”

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Thornton Middle School eighth-grade student Kasey Hasan (center) was surprised March 8 in his science class with news that he was selected as CFISD’s Student Argonaut who will take part in a scientific expedition in Nicaragua in July through JASON Learning. Thornton and CFISD administrators, Tom Jackson (blue jacket), Board of Trustees member, and Hasan’s father, Haider Elias (next to Kasey) made the surprise announcement.

Mattox said the draw for the program was the ability to bring real-life science into the classroom. Her message in her essay reflects that to her students in that they can achieve their goals.

“I just had a daughter and she’s tiny,” Mattox said of Adelin, who was part of the surprise team along with Mattox’s husband Brandon. “But I want her to know that if you put yourself out there, you can do anything. I especially feel that way for our females because I have a little girl. I’m really pushing STEM careers and following those paths.”

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Aragon Middle School science teacher Aimy Mattox (left), hugs her husband Brandon after he and their daughter Adelin were part of a group that surprised Aimy in her classroom March 8 with news that she was selected as CFISD’s Educator Argonaut who will take part in a scientific expedition in Nicaragua in July through JASON Learning.

Hasan was the finalist among 33 student applicants, actually completing his essay for the application twice – the second one on the final day – after his first draft was lost. His career aspiration is to become an engineer and Hasan said this opportunity will allow him to see another part of the world and how science works.

“It’s a beautiful world out there,” he said. “I want to see how all of it is and how it can impact me in my future.”

Last year’s Argonauts – Bridgeland High School freshman Smitha Bhagavatula and Arnold Middle School science campus content instructional specialist Tiffany Schmidtendorff – traveled to Cape Eleuthera Institute on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas.

The JASON Project connects students to real science and exploration to inspire and motivate them to pursue careers in the STEM fields. The curriculum was unveiled in CFISD beginning in 2013-2014, coming as a result of a nearly $250,000 grant from Chevron.

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