Educator Spotlight: Albert Padilla

Mr. Albert Padilla teaches Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology at Brawley Union High School, a Title I school in a rural community in California. He discovered Gizmos at a STEM Conference in Anaheim, and has used Gizmos in his classroom for three years. “I was immediately interested when I heard that Gizmos was compatible with all Internet browsers, aligned to the NGSS, and when I saw that it was so user friendly.”

His classes are set up to be 1-to-1. “We use a Chromebook cart, but we also have access to iPads. We usually start as whole group with me leading any introductory activities and facilitating the exploration process before giving way to small groups and/or individual instruction. Quite frequently I ask students to share with a neighbor what they are observing and learning. Other times I ask them to explain the equation they just created and how they got it.”

Mr. Padilla uses Gizmos aligned to the NGSS High School Physical Science Standards: HS-PS1 (1 through 8). “Gizmos has really helped my students in that it breaks down a standard piece by piece.” For HS-PS1-2, he uses the Ionic Bonds Gizmo and Covalent Bonds Gizmo. “I love how students can just take one electron from one atom and share/transfer it to another atom. It shows students the octet rule at the molecular level and provides a hands-on approach to how valence electrons determine the types of bonds that can be formed between atoms. Students get to attempt exploring forming bonds while gaining understanding and seeing the patterns involved in the process.”

He tries a variety of methods to help his students understand scientific concepts. When teaching nuclear reactions (HS-PS1-8), he starts with some exploratory exercises before working with students on the Nuclear Reactions Gizmo. “The Gizmo has two other types of reactions (CNO Cycle and Fission), I use a facilitating approach during each reaction while allowing for time to check for understanding, which is also built into the Gizmo. We transition into the Gizmo as we start with the proton-proton reaction that occurs in stars like the Sun. I try to facilitate the exploration process by asking students to do certain things on the Gizmo, such as firing protons and neutrons, and taking note of any observations. I then try to guide students to see the relationship between what happens during each step of the reaction and the nuclear equation that will represent the reaction. Since they are already familiar with different types of decay (learned through a previous Gizmo) like alpha and beta, making this connection is a lot easier.”

Mr. Padilla adds, “Gizmos absolutely hits the standards right on the money! ExploreLearning Gizmos has actually guided many of my lessons because it is ahead of the game.”

Mr. Albert Padilla has taught science in Brawley Union High School District in California for 10 years. He graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s in Social Science and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Phoenix. He is a Google Certified Educator, and in 2013 was awarded ‘Distinguished Teacher of the Year” by the Brawley Chamber of Commerce.