Right after Thanksgiving 2012, NEED received word that, Bob Thompson, one of our former teachers and staff members died suddenly.  For the NEED family, this loss reminded us of the great times we had with Bob and his wife Debbie and all the fun we had as a team at teacher workshops, NEED Energy Conferences for Educators and our BP Solar Schools, BP A+ for Energy Program workshops and many others.  Bob was a key part of our H2 Educate and Wind for Schools programming early on and delivered workshops for us in Illinois and all across the country for several years.  When I think of Bob, I think of all the gee whiz moments that happen in science.  I also think of Bob’s childlike wonder about science, and specifically about energy.  We’re an organization of Energy Nerds.  Big ones.  We think of energy as a unifying theme in science.  We think of energy as cool.  Bob loved energy and loved teaching about energy.  He also loved taking care of people.  I can attest that I never picked up my own luggage, never had to carry my own laptop bag or open a door when Bob was around.  He was a gentleman, a great teacher, and an explorer.  As an ultralight pilot he would fly near wind turbines installed in Illinois.  As a huge fan of aerospace, he would stand with me in the Avis parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport and stare into the heavens at the jet planes coming in to land.  Then there was the time he shoved my ice cream cone in my face.  That was funny.  It was also cooling – since we were in La Quinta, California

It was all science.  All the time.  Bob explored.  Bob taught exploration.  Bob energized workshops of teachers and classrooms of kids.

He was special.  Special to all of us at NEED and to the teachers and students he worked with over time.  Because of this, NEED has established the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award that will be given each year to a teacher who exemplifies Bob’s childlike wonder of science and energy.   The award includes a $1,000 cash grant to the teacher to use as he/she chooses in the classroom and an all-expenses paid trip to the NEED Energy Conference for Educators hosted each July.  This year, the award will be given at the 33rd Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement in Washington, D.C. June 21-24, 2013 and the teacher will attend the NEED Energy Conference for Educators July 14-18 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Have a teacher to nominate?  Want to apply?  Email Mary Spruill at mspruill@need.org for an application.  Deadline for applications is March 30, 2013.  Be sure that if you apply, you are able to attend the Award Ceremony on June 24 and the NEED Conference July 14-18.

I think Bob would love this.  And I’m glad we’re doing it.  Many thanks to Bob for his support of NEED and to the Thompson family for their support of his work with us.