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08/07/2024

We heard from some our SASTA award winners about what inspires them as teachers.

 

Miriam Doull

Miriam Doull, Mitcham Primary School - 2024 Credit Union SA / SASTA Outstanding Contribution to the Teaching of Science (Primary)

 

What does it mean to you to win this award?

I am very honoured, and I really appreciate that SASTA and Credit Union SA offer such an award. As someone who came to Science Teaching as a second career, it validates my choice and my commitment to create inspiring, engaging science learning opportunities for primary school children, and to share my learnings with other educators. I love taking on opportunities to further my own learning, and particularly love the expert science sessions at SASTA events - hearing about real, current science is so cool! It makes me reflect that when I started to study Primary Teaching I was told there weren't going to be any jobs in Primary Science, and I feel very lucky to get to do this job every day and share my passion for learning about science with others.

What inspired you to become a science educator?

I think my inspiration to become a science educator is grounded in the fact that I've always been a proud "science nerd", and my parents were inspirational (English and Drama) teachers. I grew up on the Southern Yorke Peninsula and spent a lot of time in nature. I was always curious about the world, and I have never lost that curiosity and wonder. I was drawn to study sciences at school, although my Area School didn't offer Biology so I took on Chemistry and Physics. At University I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science and relished the opportunity to add in Psychology and change to Biology instead of Physics, whilst continuing with some Chemistry. I vividly remember watching Jane Goodall's story, and I lined up to meet David Attenborough (and still tell my students about it!). 

I then spent many years using my analytical and data skills, learned through the sciences, in a career in the Public Service. When my own children were in Primary School it was time for a career change, and I was struck by the joy they found in learning science with their primary Science teacher, and I decided that this was something that I wanted to be part of. I met with that teacher and with a few other experts in the field in SA, to discuss choosing primary or secondary Science teaching. I knew it was going to be science teaching but wasn't sure which age group to choose. I then went back to University to gain my Masters of Teaching (Primary), and the rest is history! I hope that I can inspire someone to also choose Primary Science teaching as a career, as it's an awesome way to spend your time! 

What advice would you give to fellow science teachers?

My advice to fellow science teachers is two-fold. 

First, keep on doing things that keep your own spark of interest in the sciences bright. Sharing your passion for science with your students is such a powerful way to help them to get excited about their learning. You can't teach everything to everyone, and you certainly can't put on a dynamic science show every lesson, but you can create interest and connection with the sciences through finding your own authentic approach to teaching primary science.

Second, I believe that our role is to support children in building on their unique perspectives of the world. Science is, after all, beautifully diverse and at its heart about "standing on the shoulders of giants". Children have such wonderful ways of looking at the world, and I believe that our role is to support them on their journey to better understand the world and live happy, impactful lives on this planet that we share. Who knows, you might be teaching the next Albert Einstein or Jane Goodall! 

 

Lara Lang

Lara Lang, Australian Science and Mathematics School - 2024 Credit Union SA / SASTA Outstanding Contribution to the Teaching of Science (Secondary)

What does it mean to win this award?

I'm very honoured to be recognised by my colleagues through this award. It represents many years of experimenting in teaching, exploring science learning in different ways, working with students in numerous schools, and being privileged enough to share what I've learnt about science education with the community of science teachers in South Australia. 

What inspired you to become a science educator?

While I love being a science nerd, it's less about the content and more about the joy of working with students. I get great satisfaction watching young people go from disengaged and uninterested to passionate and having fun while learning. Some of my favourite moments in teaching involve classrooms of students doing amazing things with their learning. Like the class of year 10s that wrote and published a book on climate change that landed on the front page of the newspaper and in our State Parliamentary library. Or the group of year 12 chemistry students who were the first in their family to complete SACE and go to University. Or the students that co-designed their own year of learning and showed incredible passion and agency in negotiating all their own custom assessment. These fun and inspiring moments with students are what make being a science teacher so rewarding.

What advice would you give to fellow science teachers?

Have fun. Create learning experiences that give you and your students enjoyment, even when the work is hard. Have high expectations and stay curious. I've been very fortunate to have mentors and colleagues that challenge my thinking - surround yourself with those people and you'll always be growing in your craft.

 

Kemp, Christine photo

Christine Kemp, Caritas College - 2024 Helen Castle Memorial Scholarship

What inspired you to become a science educator?

After studying a science degree and working as an Industrial Chemist for a number of years, I was approached by a family friend to tutor their child in chemistry, physics and maths. Over the years I picked up more students and realised I was great at building relationships and working the content to get the best out of the students. I really loved teaching and decided to study education online whilst raising my own children so that I could continue to utilise my first degree through educating others as a science teacher.

How has the experience of receiving this scholarship impacted your science teaching?

I am very passionate about science and learning and I believe that we should always be looking at ways to engage and support our students across all disciplines. Receiving the Helen Castle Memorial Scholarship allowed me to attend my first ever SASTA Annual Conference which was a wonderful opportunity to hear and see what other educators are doing in their schools, as well as affirm the initiatives that I have been encouraging at Caritas College and acknowledge my efforts in offering a range of extracurricular science activities across reception to year 12.

What advice would you give to fellow science teachers?

Keep going! Take opportunities to network with other teachers, share ideas and resources, keep offering activities to students. You never know when you are going to create the spark within a young mind that just might ignite a lifelong passion for science!