By Sue Moore
Abby Chapin a Schoolcraft High School senior, received a Student Excellence Award in a ceremony from leaders of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. David Blough, a Vicksburg area resident who teaches math at Parchment High School, was given an Educator Excellence Award at the same event. They were feted as part of the Air Zoo’s Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards in late April.
Chapin, a senior who studies at the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center (KAMSC), plans to be an engineer. In her application for the honor, she wrote that her interest lies in alternative energy—solar power for example. Developing sustainable and eco-friendly items for individuals in third-world countries where these devices can save lives will be her concentration in college.
“These types of ideas are changing the world, and that is exactly what I plan to do with my life,” she wrote. “I have a passion for learning concepts but also diving deeper to learn how and to understand why. I want to make the world a better place for us to live.”
She also earned a $1,500 scholarship based on her performance during Michigan State University’s engineering camp last summer. She is the daughter of John and Cyndie Chapin.
David Blough, a Vicksburg High School graduate in 1983, a Hope College grad in 1987, and Peace Corps volunteer in the 1980s in the Philippines, was honored for his passion for teaching. “For much of his career David has taught classes for students who struggle with math,” said Shani Walton, a Parchment math teacher who nominated Blough. “He works very hard to find problems and projects that will pique their interest and keep them engaged when it comes to applying the mathematics with which they so often struggle.”
Blough created a “trebuchet” project, requiring a lot of math lessons to create such a catapult. The students research how they work, design and build their own variation where they see the living math equations in action. They have fun with a battle between the teams at the end of the school year, shooting targets in a big open area at the school. They score points on their accuracy. One of the targets is Blough.
“There are different ways to teach math,” Blough said. “It takes patience, energy, time, tough love sometimes, but when young people start to get it, there is a real sense of accomplishment. I had Dan Briggs at Vicksburg High School as my math teacher and I learned a lot from him.”
Blough is the son of Janet and Mike Blough, who is a retired teacher from Vicksburg High School. He lives in the Tobey School area and has six grandchildren, two of which attend Indian Lake elementary school.
The Air Zoo also honored five aviators from the state of Michigan who had made special achievements in aviation.