Among the exhibitors at the Catalyst 2018 Conference “The Changing Face of Science” at Kelowna Secondary School were the website Exambank.com, which offers online practice tests, represented by project manager Jeannie Charrois and her husband president Dan Charrois. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Abbotsford teacher heads up science teaching conference

Kelowna event exposes new instructional classroom tools for science teachers

Science teachers from across the province converged Friday on Kelowna Secondary School to participate in an education forum hosted by the B.C. Science Teachers’ Association.

More than 180 delegates taking part in the Catalyst 2018 Conference “The Changing Face of Science” to there to listen to presenters and get exposure to corporate public education initiatives related to science issues such as creating sustainable energy that might be useful teaching tools in their classrooms.

John Munro, the BCSTA president and science teacher at Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary, said the attending delegates are largely middle and secondary school science teachers.

“The workshops and keynote addresses capture the idea that science is always moving forward, progressing by learning from the past to help make better decisions in the future,” Munro said. “Our hope is to make our students literate in science which will lead them to make knowledgeable future decisions.”

The lifelong learner concept embraced by the Central Okanagan School District and the curriculum changes from Kindergarten to Grade 10 so far adopted by the B.C. Ministry of Education funnel into the idea of adapting science to students’ lives on a personal level, he said.

“It’s not about answering the question posed to you, but answering that question and following up on the next question and the next question that comes after. That is the goal. To not be satisfied and want to know as much as you an about an area o science you are interested in or have a personal attachment to,” he said.

Munro said he doesn’t feel students today are any more motivated to learn about science compared to preceding generations.

“It used to be that a teacher held information from reading a textbook and would know what information in advance to present from it in class. Today, kids come to class sometimes knowing more about a specific topic than I do, ” he said, citing the impact of the Internet as a virtual library of information at any student’s fingertips.

He applauds the curriculum changes as it relates to science class, where teachers can provide the context to a given topic but students can be encouraged to pursue their own self-interests.

“I like that idea that you can’t come to school with the idea that if you learn x,y and z than you will be successful in life. No one has the ability to define what you must know to be successful when you get out of school anymore,” he said.

“It used to be you had to know certain characteristics to be an operational person in society, so there used to be a big distinction between those who graduated university and those who did not. But that’s not the case today.”

At the conference, science teachers are also introduced to initiatives about public education in energy conservation and renewals, such as from BC Hydro and FortisBC, to help bring energy saving concepts into the classroom in a structured resource format.

“FortisBC, like science teachers, has a responsibility to educate future homeowners, car buyers and policy makers about important energy concepts, such as conservation and climate action and safety around natural gas and electricity,” said Nicole Bogdanovic, corporate communications advisor with the utility.

“So we did our homework—we took a look at where energy concepts fit into the expected learning outcomes for each grade. Working with teachers and education designers, we built out downloadable lesson plans that match the new hands-on inquiry-based learning approach for Kindergarten to Grade 10.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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