Hansen teaches students through hands-on activities instead of relying only on textbooks. A former student recalled learning about evolution with a natural selection "bean-eaters" game and that Hansen helped his students understand phylogenetic trees with Caminalcules.
Hansen actively seeks opportunities for students to learn more about the material he teaches in class. For instance, he currently has a small group of students working on a NASA-sponsored project called Mars Exploration Student Data Teams and arranged passes for his students to attend the annual Advancing Science Serving Society meeting in Boston last month.
Hansen also encourages his students to explore beyond the classroom by taking advantage of online resources such as online daylight hours simulators and directions to make precise inclinometers.
Hundreds of nominations came in fron across the country with a chance at winning a $10,000 grant, but also the opportunity to showcase their innovative teaching style to the nation.
Six finalists remain, and the voting ends March 24.