Cindy Law – Scientific Inquiry for All

Some footage used in this video was filmed prior to the pandemic and may not depict social distancing measures.

Transcription – Cindy Law- 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM

[Photo, with voice over. Photo: A class sitting outside, working in small groups. Music playing.]

"My teaching style is very much about relationship and conversations, and telling stories."

[Fade to white with a medium shot of woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Cindy Law, William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario. Music playing.]

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: Students outside in a field using measuring tapes to find the distance between them.]

"One of the things I'm most proud of in terms of how I run my classroom is when I am able to actually turn…"

[Cut to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"…a lesson that's based on facts, based on numbers, based on formulas and use my skill as an educator to present that in a way where it becomes a discovery."

[Fade to black and then cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: A student in a lab studying plants.]

"And in that aspect I think that's where teaching is a craft…"

[Cut to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"…is an art form. And is not something you can do with a degree. It's not about the letters after your name. It's really about practice, and experience, and seeing what works for students when they learn. And what you need to provide for them, for them to get to the answer without you just spoon-feeding the answer to them."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: two students outside, working on a project; students making cupcakes inside a classroom.]

"In my opinion what contributes to a student's success is first the student needs to identify what success means to them."

[Cut to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"And I find that often teachers and parents define success for the students. Instead of the students defining it for themselves."

[Fade to black and then up to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"I as a classroom teacher need to provide the environment where it feels safe. Safe to fail, safe to make mistakes. Safe to know that it doesn't matter what their goals are and whether they're reaching it or not. That my job as a teacher is to help them along the way."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: A diagram of macromolecules]

"So I believe technology is a tool, and not a destination. I equate that to public transit. You can navigate the public transit. And if you do it effectively you arrive at where you are supposed to go."

[Cut to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"If you don't navigate it, you don't arrive. Which is kind of like technology. It's there as a tool to get you to where you want.

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: students stretching in a circle on the floor of a classroom.]

"I would like new teachers to know, and understand that teaching is definitely a conversation. It's a story, and it's a relationship."

[Cut to Cindy in the interview setting.]

"And it's a relationship not just with your students, but also with your colleagues. And so I advise that all teachers learn not to teach in isolation. It's very easy to do in a pandemic, in a virtual setting. But teaching should never be in isolation."

[Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute
Grades 10 to 12 - science
Toronto, Ontario


“It is difficult to put into words the magic that Cindy casts in the classroom, school environment, local community and beyond. To watch her in action, to participate in one of her lessons, to share best practices with her and to hear current and past students comment on the degree to which Ms. Law has shaped their learning - all of these intangibles would truly be a more effective barometer to measure The Law of Science.”


Teaching Approach

Cindy’s teaching philosophy relies heavily on collaborative learning, self-directed inquiry activities and the use of assessments and evaluations that require students to think critically about the natural world. One of Cindy’s greatest strengths when designing lessons is allowing for students to discover scientific concepts independently, as opposed to traditional teacher-led instruction. She uses self-directed instructional lessons to foster scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills, allow students to work at their own pace, promote natural collaboration among peers.

In the Classroom

Cindy’s innovative teaching methods, from preparing effective resources, to creating interactive learning experiences, to incorporating authentic STEM opportunities into the curriculum, continually fosters an educational environment geared towards collaboration and genuine scientific inquiry.

Cindy’s inspiration and motivation to have students pursue scientific challenges has resulted in numerous successful achievements in the ExploraVision – a competition designed to engage students through the solving of real-world issues using STEM-based solutions. Cindy has implemented ExploraVision directly into her Grade 10 Academic Science curriculum. Students present their research following the guidelines of the competition so that it can be submitted for consideration in ExploraVision, but also so student research can be evaluated as a component of their term mark. In 2020-2021, students won first place in this national competition. Cindy has also been chosen as an ExploraVision Ambassador by organizers to help mentor participating students and teachers from all over North America.

Outstanding Achievements

Cindy Law’s mentorship and guidance of students, particularly through the Mackenzie Science Club (MSC) and the yearly production of the Mackenzie Science and Engineering Olympics (MSEO), emphasize her deep commitment towards developing STEM competencies among students at both the elementary and secondary levels.

The main mandate of the MSC when it was co-founded in 2005 by Cindy, was to promote the Sciences and core STEM skills of inquiry, problem solving and teamwork among the student population through weekly extracurricular interactive events. Cindy’s ultimate goal was to leverage the MSC and the mentorship of it’s student leaders and membership, as a vehicle to drive a yearly Science and Engineering Olympics-style competition, designed specifically for middle school students from across the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Since 2006, MSEO has grown exponentially to host over 250 middle school students from a maximum capacity of twelve different TDSB middle schools every March, with teams competing in over 20 events ranging from computer programming, to chemical experimentation to design-and-build engineering tasks. MSEO has evolved to encompass teacher events, enrichment workshops and non-competitive activities and has grown in popularity among TDSB middle schools, so much so that online registration routinely reaches maximum capacity in a matter of days.

Get in touch!

William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute
20 Tillplain Road
Toronto, ON  M3H 5R2
Twitter: @TDSB_WLM