PM's Prize for Science
Two NSW public school teachers have been recognised as Australia's leading science educators by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Brett McKay, head teacher of science at Kirrawee High School in Sydney's south, and Neil Bramsen, assistant principal at Mount Ousley Public School in Wollongong, each received a $50,000 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday, 18 October.
Mr McKay received the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for his achievements inspiring his students to love science and to use it in their daily lives.
Mr Bramsen was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for his innovative partnerships with scientists, the community and other schools to foster students' enthusiasm, knowledge and skills in science.
The prizes recognise the critical role science educators play in inspiring and encouraging students to take an interest in science and to consider science as a career.
Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said it was a remarkable achievement that two NSW public school teachers were singled out for honours at the Prime Minister's Science Prizes.
"Brett and Neil have been recognised as the best science teachers in Australia," Mr Scott said.
"We congratulate them on their wonderful achievement. Their enthusiasm for science and for their students is an example to which all teachers can aspire."
As a physics and science teacher, Mr McKay has overseen a four-fold increase in students at Kirrawee High School taking physics and a 150 per cent increase in voluntary and co-curricular science activities.
Under his leadership 25 per cent of Year 10 students are now seeking science-based work experience, and this is leading to an increase in students doing rigorous science courses in Year 11.
Mr McKay is proud of past students who are working in science around the world, studying fusion, fossils, biomechanics and fluid dynamics.
But he said it was not all about creating the next generation of scientists, "It's also about giving students a passion for science that they can use in everyday life, for example as electricians. If you're literate in science you can do whatever you want to," Mr McKay said.
Mr Bramsen is passionate about connecting his young students at Mount Ousley to real science by linking them with working scientists and students around the globe.
Students have talked with astronauts on the International Space Station and made global connections through Skype with researchers around the globe.
He believes science is a key to igniting students' passion for learning and he is often out of the classroom with students conducting marine debris research at the nearby beach or creating butterfly gardens in the school grounds. "The outdoor classroom is probably my favourite place to be," he said.