NMAS 2023 Outstanding New Mexico Science Teachers Awardees

The New Mexico Academy of Science has been in existence for over 100 years and is an advocate and resource for science and science education in New Mexico.

The Outstanding Science Teacher Award given by the New Mexico Academy of Science honors New Mexico science and math educators. The Academy recognizes educators who provide opportunities for students to succeed in science. The award has been given since 1968 and  nominations are open to all preK-12 teachers and all Informal Science educators throughout New Mexico. The award consists of a plaque and a monetary award, both presented at the annual NMAS Meeting/Symposium. The American Chemical Society joins with the Academy in this award and also presents a monetary award to the NMAS winning teachers.

This year, our two amazing awardees are Chris Speck, from Santa Fe, and Albuquerque and Dr. Roy Biñas Basa, from Zuni.

Chris Speck

Our first awardee, Mr. Chris Speck, currently teaches 7th grade science and ELA at Garfield STEM School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Mr. Speck received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from the University of New Mexico.

After ten years teaching the elementary grades, he switched to middle school and also began a two-summer stint in the Research Experience for Teacher’s Program working in Sandia Labs Advanced Materials Lab.

After a switch to mostly biology teaching , he spent a month at the Gates Coral Lab at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology and he setup coral reef ecosystem, aquaponics, and biotechnology programs.

He became a National Geographic Certified Educator in 2018. Also in 2018 he was awarded the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education by the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico. In 2023 he was selected as a state nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics in Science Teaching.

As one of his nominees said:

“ Mr. Speck is a believer in inquiry-based learning. He creates projects based on what his students are interested in and current events.He is stern but approachable. He makes science cool. Our grant reviewers are astonished by what he is able to accomplish with middle school students. Every year he has applied for a grant, I never fail to hear “this is in middle school?” from a reviewer.”

Dr. Roy Biñas Basa

Our second awardee, Dr. Roy Biñas Basa, currently serves as Science, Biomedical Science, Clean Energy Technology, Technology, Engineering, and Rocketry Instructor at Twin Buttes Cyber Academy and Zuni High School in the Zuni Public School District. He is also the Zuni Public School District CTE coordinator.

He received his Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a specialization in General Science, a Master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision, another Masters in Education specializing in Natural Science, and a Ph.D. in Educational Management. He is currently pursuing an additional Master’s in Education with a major in Special Education.

His honorary awards and degrees include Fellow of the Royal Institution in Singapore, and Doctor of Science in Scientific Pedagogy (DSc). He is the author of numerous books, including “Phobias and Fears,” “Branches of Science from A to Z”,  He holds a Patent in STEM Education and is an Instructional Materials Reviewer for the New Mexico Public Education Department.

In 2016, Dr. Basa was named a National Winner in the Search for Outstanding Teachers of the Philippines. And in 2023, he received the SHELL URBAN SCIENCE EDUCATOR DEVELOPMENT AWARD from the National Science Teachers Association.  He has received many other state, regional and local awards.

As one of his nominees said:

“The success of his students demonstrates his going beyond being a good teacher and points to a deep and abiding commitment to students which engenders the trust and confidence necessary for students to be successful in this small rural community.”