When students and staff at NSU Middle Laboratory School begin to see a giant, life-size replica of a whale being built on campus, they know science teacher Lois Shields's students are at work. This special event, known as Whale Day, is one of many innovative ways that Lois Shields gets her sixth-graders to enjoy the discovery of science. Her students may also be seen walking around campus wearing T-shirts that they've color-coded to correspond with the internal anatomy of their torsos. These highly creative, hands-on learning activities, combined with the effective use of technology, help Ms. Shields deliver just the right balance of instruction and practice in her classes. In addition to teaching science, Ms. Shields also created the school's health curriculum, developing it over the past three years to the extent that many neighboring schools have now adopted it. And she's more than just an academic teacher. Understanding the need for social guidance in young teens, she develops a strong rapport with her students and maintains close contact with the parents of those who are facing difficult situations. Ms. Shields is also a teacher leader, chairing the school's science department and mentoring new teachers. It's no wonder why colleagues cite her as a major reason for NSU Middle Laboratory School's ranking as one of the top five percent of schools in the state.