Carolyn Barnhart: Energetic leader engages students and teachers in tech

Year: 2018 – Province: New Brunswick

Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM

Carolyn Barnhart

Fredericton High School
300 Priestman Street
Fredericton, NB E3B 6J8

School telephone: 506-453-5435
School website:


Subjects and grades taught: Chemistry 11, Environmental Science 12

Recently appointed science department head, Carolyn Barnhart hit the ground running, giving her full support to the Innovation Centre—the new focus of technology learning at her large school. Authentic, honest and compassionate, she works exceptionally hard and challenges others to do likewise.

Teaching approach

Carolyn believes that science education should be based in investigation, problem solving and analysis, and organizes her courses accordingly. And, while focusing on bringing technology into the classroom to enhance learning, she shows students the value of involvement—in school and the community.

STEM in the Classroom

  • Emphasizes using technology to help solve real-world problems: students brainstormed ways to help monitor a local watershed; their idea to use drones to collect and transport samples to operators advanced to the national science fair and is the subject of business interest
  • Conceived an escape room to provide chemistry students with a fun way to do hands-on work and review basic concepts
  • Ensures students who cannot attend class remain current using a robot video recorder platform that operates on any phone or tablet
  • Mentors teachers who may be hesitant about integrating technology into their programs, assuring them they do not have to be experts and providing professional development opportunities; one teacher was inspired to have her English class create an interactive display with buttons that visitors could push to access short audio reviews of a book the students read

Outstanding achievements

  • Received the 2017 Inspirational STEM Teacher award from the provincial association of professional engineers and geoscientists
  • Organized and led two trips for fellow teachers to a U.S. technology and education centre to observe project-based learning and interdisciplinary projects
  • Is currently planning a national student leadership conference—the second such one she has organized in her career—that will bring 750 students and 250 staff to the school from across Canada
  • Spearheads numerous charitable projects, such as Kats' Kitchen, which feeds 300 students in need, and TP the Town, which sees students raise funds to purchase toilet paper and other hygiene products for several shelters and youth homes in the city

Rave reviews

"Carolyn is our resident 'Duracell Teacher Bunny.' In fact, we are not sure if or when she sleeps. Seriously, her mind never stops; she is always thinking of new and innovative things to do with her students and new and inspirational teaching strategies to share with teachers."