Dif­fer­ent take on sci­ence of learn­ing

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Aaron Cor­lett

SUZY Ur­ba­niak does not be­lieve in us­ing text­books in her class­room.

She would rather use so­cial me­dia and mod­ern jour­nals to teach her stu­dents at Kent Street Se­nior High School.

Her teach­ing has been recog­nised af­ter win­ning the 2016 Prime Min­is­ter’s Prize for Ex­cel­lence in Sci­ence, which was pre­sented to her in Can­berra.

Ms Ur­ba­niak worked as a ge­ol­o­gist be­fore life as a sin­gle par­ent ne­ces­si­tated a ca­reer change.

“As a mother of three and their pri­mary care­giver, I needed a job that was more com­pat­i­ble,” she said, “I found that ed­u­ca­tion had not changed much since I was at school and sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion did not re­flect true sci­ence and real field work.

“Sci­ence is about in­ves­ti­gat­ing and not just read­ing text books and do­ing ar­bi­trary ex­per­i­ments. I wanted to teach sci­ence stu­dents about prob­lem solv­ing, cre­at­ing an­swers from first-hand ex­per­i­ments and I wanted them to think about geo­science as ca­reer.”

Ms Ur­ba­niak said the ex­pe­ri­ence of win­ning the award was ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“It made me feel spe­cial; it’s not good just for me but the school as well be­cause the lead­ers have al­lowed me to think out­side the box,” she said. “Meet­ing Mal­colm Turn­bull and Greg Hunt was great, they both be­lieve in in­no­va­tive sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion.”

Ms Ur­ba­niak said she found it shock­ing that min­er­als and en­ergy, which played an in­te­gral role in WA, were not a key com­po­nent of the school cur­ricu­lum, so she cre­ated the Cen­tre of Re­sources Ex­cel­lence pro­gram.

“The pro­gram has been in devel­op­ment for 10 years and it was of­fi­cially launched this year,” she said.

“I want stu­dents to work on projects and col­lab­o­rate to­gether be­fore pre­sent­ing in a town hall style.

“The pro­gram is cen­tred on the in­dus­try; one of the projects I was do­ing with my Year 10 stu­dents was about Bar­row Is­land and the hu­man bi­ol­ogy of the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple there.

“Some stu­dents have found the pro­gram dif­fi­cult be­cause they aren’t spoon fed but ul­ti­mately it’s re­ward­ing for them.”

Sci­ence teacher Suzy Ur­ba­niak en­cour­ages stu­dents like Chris Sun­ley and Lee-an Lu to think out­side the box.

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