NCSLA mourns the passing of Dr. Floyd Elliott Mattheis, 85, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday, September 1, 2017.
Floyd was born on a farm northeast of Ellendale, North Dakota on December 21, 1931. He was the youngest of six children born to John and Katherine Ammon Mattheis who were German immigrants from Russia. After John abandoned his family in 1934, Katherine and her children moved to Ellendale. Floyd entered the public school in Ellendale in 1937 and graduated from high school in 1949. In the fall of 1949 he enrolled at the State Normal and Industrial College (NI) in Ellendale and received the Bachelor of Science in Education Degree in August 1952. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in August 1952 and served in active duty until June 1954 when he was separated and served in the inactive reserves until August of 1960 when he received an Honorable Discharge.
He began his teaching career in the fall of 1954 as a science and mathematics teacher at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Minnesota. In 1955 Floyd married Pauline Skeie. This summer they will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary. They have been blessed with five children, nine grandchildren and one great grandson. While teaching at Granite Falls, Floyd spent the three summers of 1956, 1957, and 1958 attending Graduate School at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. The family spent the next two years in Chapel Hill. Floyd received the Master of Education degree in May 1959 at UNC.
In September 1960, Floyd accepted a teaching position as Assistant Professor in the Science Department at East Carolina College (later East Carolina University) in Greenville, North Carolina. He continued to work on his doctoral degree at UNC on a part-time basis. He received the Doctor of Education degree at UNC in 1962. In 1963 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Science Education and in 1966 he was promoted to Professor of Science Education and also became Chairman of the Department of Science Education for 19 years (1966-1985).
In his early years he became very active in professional organizations and staff development activities for science teachers. As a result of submitting grant proposals to the National Science Foundation he was awarded numerous grants to conduct science institutes for science teachers in North Carolina during the 60’s and 70’s. In 1967 he helped organize the North Carolina Science Teacher Association which today is one of the strongest state organizations of science teachers in the nation. He directed national trial centers for curricula developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California and the University of Hawaii during the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. In 1980 Dr. Mattheis received the organization’s first Science Education of the Year Award. In 1972 Dr. Mattheis was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Science Teachers Association for a three year term. He later served on the Board as National President of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science (AETS) in 1988-89. In 1977 he served as Chair of the NSTA annual convention in Cincinnati.
During the 1970’s he served as external evaluator for a number of North Carolina school districts who had received ESEA grants. He also served as external evaluator for a number of grants to the Wisconsin Academy of Science in the 1980’s and 90’s. In 1980 Dr. Mattheis received a grant from NSF to take ten East Carolina University students to Hyderabad, India, to participate in the NSF Solar Eclipse Expedition to India. They spent three weeks working with the various research projects in the expedition. In 1979 he was invited to Japan by the Sony Foundation for Science Education to visit schools and speak to teachers and students throughout Japan. In 1984 he directed a projects cooperative research project with science educators from Japan funded by NSF. This project lasted about three years and included a US-Japan Seminar in 1985 in Hawaii. In 1985 Floyd was appointed Chair of NSTA’s International Committee. He served as chairperson for three years. During his term as chairman, NSTA was involved with cooperation projects with Japan and the United Kingdom. Seminars were held in Washington, D.C. and York, England. In 1983 Dr. Mattheis received an NSF grant to work with science educators and teachers in India and conducted workshops in New Delhi and Lucknow, India. Dr. Mattheis was on various NSTA committees during the past forty years. In 1990 he was appointed chairman of the NSTA’s Shell Science Teaching Award committee. He served as Chair of this committee for twelve years. In 1991 Dr. Mattheis received the Distinguished Service to Science Education Award from NSTA and in 1996 received NSTA’s highest award – The Robert Carleton Award. Throughout his professional life he has made numerous presentations at state, regional, national and international meetings. The international meetings included New Delhi and Lucknow, India; Birmingham, Bristol, York, and London, England; Hiroshima, Osaka, and Tokyo, Japan; Hong Kong, Singapore, and Manila, Philippines.
From 1985-2011 Dr. Mattheis served as Director of the Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics program at East Carolina University. He retired from ECU in December of 2011 at the age of 80 after more than 51 years working at ECU. One of his hobbies is chasing total solar eclipses – he has seen ten of them. He has always been proud of his North Dakota roots and always looks forward to seeing classmates and friends from North Dakota.