November 09, 2012
Kay Stephen: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Kay Stephen teaches a variety of science courses at St. Pius X High School in Ottawa, Ontario. She has been a science teacher since 1996. Mrs. Stephen is an active science blogger, curriculum developer, and textbook writer. In 2011, Mrs. Stephen served as a judge for the Google Science Fair and was selected as the Smarter Science® Secondary Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Stephen believes that science teaching needs to be less about the regurgitation of facts and more about discovery, inquiry, and collaboration, so she has become a devoted fan of Gizmos.
Mrs. Stephen has been using Gizmos for four years and considers them an invaluable resource. She uses Gizmos to enhance her students’ real-world scientific explorations. Mrs. Stephen uses Gizmos to introduce topics, to reinforce learning, and to experiment in ways that that normally would not be possible in a secondary school science lab.
Some of Mrs. Stephen’s favorite Gizmos are Building DNA, 2D Eclipse, 3D Eclipse, Circuit Builder, Germination, Circulatory System, and H-R Diagram. She has found that these Gizmos promote inquiry and collaboration in her classroom, can be used by learners of all levels, and provide instantaneous experimental results.
A great example of how Mrs. Stephen blends hands-on and virtual investigations is described in her blog. Realizing that many of her students had little experience with nature, Mrs. Stephen initiated a plant growing project. The students began the project by planting marigold and tomato seeds. As the seeds were germinating, they spent a class period working with the Growing Plants Gizmo. Mrs. Stephen’s students jumped right into the Gizmo and spontaneously began a “Who can grow the tallest plant?” contest. Students were then able to design and run controlled experiments to understand the effects of each variable on plant growth. The results of the virtual experiments informed the real-world investigations students were doing with their plants.