Year: 2018 – Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Walnut Grove Secondary School
8919 Walnut Grove Drive
Langley BC V1M 2N7
School telephone: 604-882-0220
Subjects and grades taught: Science 9, Astronomy 11, Chemistry 12
Everybody is born a scientist, Tim Stephenson says. In his work as a teacher and department head, he shapes science teaching to encourage students to engage in science 24 hours a day. At the same time, he is a proponent of information and communications technologies, and was writing about their benefits in the early 1990s.
Tim seeks to destroy the idea that science is only for “the smartest of the smart” by bringing science to life through real-life stories that involve science, discussing rather than lecturing, and teaching everyone that they can and should get involved with science, since it touches every aspect of life.
In the Classroom
- Encourages students to be at home with science: students learn to see solar panels, lithium batteries and telescopes as familiar and useful tools for learning because they are right there in the classroom with them
- Extends opportunities for learning beyond his classes: his SnapChat stories about chemistry and space get students excitedly discussing science in the halls; by following his Twitter account, students stay on top of world events; star parties bring students to school at night to study the sky
- Encourages “Eureka” moments through hands-on projects: Grade 9 students monitor a local stream, while Grade 12 act as mentors and advisors on water chemistry; students use four school fish tanks for research and experiments related to ocean temperatures and water quality
- Integrates environmental awareness with science: students learn techniques for measuring air pollution; conferences bring students and environmental experts together to discuss science-related topics; the student-led Green Team seeks to make the school an environmental leader
- Created only astronomy course in school district, which students flock to; course led to public outreach opportunities; Tim is now education chair for the Royal Astronomical Society in Vancouver
- Inspired by Tim, students launched the Engineering Club, meeting regularly after school to transform single-use plastic items into moulds for parts of creations they then design and build
- Coordinated science-based field trip to Hawaii to teach students about geology, astronomy, marine biology, agriculture, and the history and culture of Hawaii
- Was featured at a local TEDx event, speaking about the importance of teachers, the near future of the environmental sciences, and the joy of learning
"[Mr. Stephenson] is a role model that many students including myself look up to, not just as a teacher, but as a true educator who guides students as we explore the many experiences life has to offer."