2020 Recipients — Teaching Excellence in STEM
Certificate of Excellence
Project-based learning draws student into the sciences. Students built a 3D model of a city, while researching ways to make cities and homes sustainable, and calculated the number and size of booms needed to contain an oil spill, while developing a plan to clean it up. Girls get excited about science, taking part in a two-week summer field experience, studying arctic science on a research ship and contributing to polar bear research.
This influential educator pushes students to take action and initiative, to step out of their comfort zones and risk doing things differently. All-female teams do high-level computational research. Grade 11s and 12s from marginalized communities are paired with top researchers to gain exposure to science and technology careers. First Nations youth take part in a big data inquiry and experiential summer program on climate change and its impact on water quality.
Certificate of Achievement
This teaching team focuses on enhancing collaboration among students and teachers at all levels. Grade 5s work together to build an arcade game that incorporates aspects of the curriculum, such as explorers, and help younger students understand and use technology. The educator duo also coaches their fellow teachers—in their school and elsewhere in the board—in the use of new technologies, such as virtual-reality hardware.
Inspired by his son, who is on the autism spectrum, and his own master's level studies, this teacher make his classes accessible to the widest possible range of learners and engages students not drawn to science. He supports students with a stream of notes, labs and review materials, which he uploads to the website for each of his courses. Students also work to bring salmon back to a polluted river and travel to the Netherlands to research local ecology and biology.
Students with a tenuous interest in school grow in confidence under this teacher's guidance. They intern with scientists and politicians, cook meals for 120 people, take water samples on rivers and lakes, and even self-published a book. Grade 12s studied climate change and refugees, participated in the Global Climate Strike and presented a 45-minute workshop at a conference their teacher organized.
High school students know that by the end a course, they will be able to say "I can …" in relation to each task they've studied. They synthesize peer-reviewed journal articles and then give a talk about the research. They study symptoms to determine what sort of pathogen is causing a fictitious patient's disease, and work collaboratively to solve and open puzzle boxes.
A small town high school now has a extensive makerspace for entrepreneurial classes and project-based learning after this resourceful educator retrofitted a science lab with equipment for 3D printing, soldering, sewing, button-making, virtual reality programming, vinyl cutting, heat pressing and coding. She also secured a grant to create a school garden, with students and community members building a greenhouse, sheds, garden beds and a water catchment system.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Thanks to this teacher's extensive extra-curricular underwater robotics program, students have participated in provincial and national competitions. As a result, they've used the remote operated vehicle they've designed—and rebuild each year—to help retrieve aircraft wreckage, inspect dams, collect earthquake data, and study the environmental impact of oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico and the effect of climate change on coral reefs.
Refusing to let students' idea that they're "bad at math" define them as learners, this caring educator helps them develop a growth mindset, celebrate their other skills and talents, and develop new strategies to succeed in math and other subjects. Students flock to her school's problem-solving program to work on puzzles, solve problems over lunch and take part in math competitions. Weekly emails help parents reinforce concepts at home.
Wishing to challenge students to stretch themselves, academically and personally, this teacher fosters wilderness confidence, introduces them to hydroponic gardening and is creating an advanced diploma program in silviculture and forestry management, the first in the province. He worked with a history teacher to design a sandbox archaeological dig, and also helps teachers develop their skills, knowledge and comfort level to work in natural settings.
This STEM specialist helps supports students and teachers in 79 schools across an entire school board. Hundreds of students benefit from the flexible seating, whiteboard and well-stocked workshop in his high school design centre. Hundreds more learn to design, build and program robots through the Lego Robotics Challenge he leads. Teachers grow confident in their use of technology under his guidance.
Even without technology, this creative educator introduced the students at his small school to STEM, getting them to act as living robots and navigate a maze based on their peers' scripted commands. Next, he used LEGO bricks to teach STEM concepts. Now, children build a robotic Easter bunny and illustrate math principles with stop-motion animation. His FIRST LEGO league team created an edible plastic hay-bale twine, now patented, that solved a pollution problem.
Lise Gravelle imparts her passion for the STEM subjects to her students and colleagues alike. With her, everyone can develop their knowledge and live fully in our constantly changing digital world. She uses her creativity and knowledge to guide her students in experiential learning, allowing them to grow and preparing them to continue their development.
This social media-savvy teacher gets her Kindergarteners to follow up on their questions and solve problems as soon as they arise. They invented and tested fruit-fly traps to respond to a classroom infestation and built a barrier to protect a duck's nest they found in the schoolyard. She shares what she knows about working with young learners with thousands of other educators via Facebook, Twitter and her blog.
With her classroom walls covered with motivational posters, and discussions often starting with stories about ground-breaking scientists, mathematicians and inventors, this rock-solid educator works to build capacity and a positive mindset in all her students. In turn, they collaborate to solve the "problem of the day," take on STEM challenges such as designing an elastic-powered car or launching a bottle rocket, and enter math and robotics contests.
Putting her relationships at the centre of her teaching practice—in fact, she even co-authored a book about the topic—this educator finds out each student's strengths and learning style, and then helps them make the best learning choices. In the first science unit of the year, they receive minimal basic materials with which to build a device to clean oceans, rivers and lakes.
Isabelle Champagne is a teacher whose contribution dazzles both in the classroom and her school, as well as in the community. Nothing is spared to make days in class exciting for the youngsters whose curiosity she encourages with every tool available. Her integrated, stimulating STEM approach is dynamic and enables the students to appropriate new knowledge and skills.
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