Byram Hills High School

Mr. Steven Borneman of Byram Hills High School is the recipient of the 2009 Nichols Foundation High School Chemistry Teacher Award.  He received the award at the New York Section’s General Meeting and Sectionwide Conference held on January 16, 2010 at St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY.   He was presented with the award by Mr. Steven Radice, Co-chair of the Nichols Foundation Teacher Award Committee.  The award is presented annually to recognize highly effective teaching and inspirational leadership to students in chemistry.  It was established in 1958 and consists of a plaque and $1000, funded by the Nichols Foundation.  Steven Borneman exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding, highly effective and inspirational teacher.
Steven received his B.S. in chemistry, a M.A.T in chemistry and a M.S. in chemistry from Binghamton University.  Steven also has a New York State Permanent Certification in Chemistry.
Presently, Steven is teaching at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York.  Prior to this, he taught in the Chenango Forks School District as a high school chemistry teacher and 8th grade physical science teacher.  While he was at Binghamton University he worked as an adjunct instructor, a teacher assistant for the department of chemistry and a research assistant.  His research involved “ Green Synthesis: Using Room Temperature Ionic Liquids for Electroorganic Synthesis.”
Courses taught by Steven include AP Chemistry, Regents chemistry, SAT II Level chemistry and Science Research Program.
Steven uses effective techniques to capture the interest of his students.  He believes that all chemistry lessons should be real, fun, exciting and challenging.  He uses shock factors or discrepant events such as putting a test tube filled with hot melted paraffin wax into a beaker of ice water and seeing a flame shoot out to the ceiling.  He demonstrates bonding principles by bending a trickle of water with a balloon and by asking the students to explain the difference in rate of evaporation when acetone, ethanol and water are rubbed on the board.
Steven challenges and inspires students by involving them in various projects.  One such project is the “Ghosts of Chemistry Past”.  Each student selects an influential chemist of the past, creates a tombstone that includes a detailed epitaph and delivers a presentation (dressed as the chemist they researched) that emphasizes scientific contributions.  The tombstones created by the students are presented to the entire school in a hallway called the “graveyard of chemistry past.”  To really get into the spirit of this ghostly idea, this project is always done in the vicinity of Halloween Day.
Steven successfully started a Chemistry Lab and Teaching Assistant program in his school.  This course gives high level students the responsibility of developing lesson plans, giving in-class support to struggling students and developing labs.  This serves the purpose of allowing students to achieve a deeper understanding of chemistry concepts.
Although Steven received the award for high school chemistry, one of his biggest contributions is to inspire elementary aged students into the world of science.  Steven developed a 4th grade presentation to students that includes exciting chemistry demonstrations such as pouring a colorless liquid into an apparently empty beaker and seeing the liquid turn pink.  He also developed 5th grade science night in which students are invited to the high school to perform hands on science experiments that include electricity, alchemy, bottle rockets and fingerprints.  In Stevens own words “ it is never too early to initiate a student’s curiosity in chemistry.”
At the same time, Steven keeps up to date with his own education.  He recently has taken courses that include: Teaching the gifted and talented, Encouraging student responsibility and Successful teaching for the acceptance of responsibility.
Debra Cayea, Science Department Chairperson at Byram Hills High School writes “ Mr. Borneman models how science is fun and he extends himself and expertise well beyond his high school classroom.  He is sure to share his contagious excitement and knowledge of chemistry with all his students and offers his expertise and guidance to other staff members including mentoring less experienced teachers.”
One of Steven’s students writes: “There is only one reason that I have chosen to pursue chemistry: Mr. Borneman.  He has an uncanny way to make chemistry not only intelligible but also fun and exciting.  Mr. Borneman instills an insatiable thirst for knowledge in chemistry that keeps me continually digging deeper.”