James Strachan: The Inspirational Laws of Physics

Year: 2021 — Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

École Kelowna Secondary School
Grades 11 and 12 - physics and engineering
Kelowna, British Columbia


“Jim not only provides an inspiring environment in the classroom for students of all capabilities to thrive, he also seeks out opportunities outside of the classroom that provide his students with the exposure to world class scientific experimentation. I am someone with a learning disability and someone who until meeting Jim didn’t think I would be successful in physics. In his class I was not only able to be more engaged in general class discussions and learnings, but I also spent many hours getting extra help directly from him. I am now a Mechanical Engineering Student.”

Former Student

Teaching Approach

Learning goes beyond the academic experience. Preparing students for their life outside of the high school classroom means more than armoring them with Newton’s Laws and other foundational science concepts, it requires they have an understanding of how their learnings are applicable to the real world, one that is increasingly digitally driven.

In the Classroom

Technology is something that one needs to manage. Surprisingly Jim allows his students to use their smartphones in class, not to scroll through Instagram however, but to create video captures. These video captures are then followed by data transfer to a computer and analyzed for projectile motion and conservation of momentum problems. This is a teaching initiative that not only integrates a digital tool student are already familiar with, but inspires them to view their smartphones, through a new scientific lens as a technology tool.

Jim has a remarkable way of captivating students with his undeniable wit and passion for the subject matter. In addition to establishing a level of mutual respect that motivates students, no one wants to let Mr. Strachan down. This in turns encourages high attendance rates and strong students.

Outstanding Achievements

STEM extracurriculars can be often hard to come by in high schools, but this is not the case at Kelowna Secondary - because of Jim. This is all about inspiration. Starting back in 1997 he has been an organizer, sponsor and coach for the UBC Physics Olympics. He arranged and sponsored weekend trips to inspire and motivate students in physics through this collegial competition – exposing students to an actual science environment. He inspired a number of students to pursue post-secondary science studies.

Jim is also the high school mentor of the UBC Okanagan Atmospheric Cloud Chamber. In 2019 he guided a team of advanced physics students at Kelowna Secondary to design an atmospheric probe as an outreach project from UBC Okanagan and Canadian Space Agency. They were successful in placing sixth nationally!

Jim’s presence in the science scene is much wider that the school. In 2004 he authored the Consortium of Online Learning’s Physics 12. This constituted designing and writing code for the entire online BC Physics 12 course, including a unit on appropriate internet usage and how to protect personal information. This was integral to providing remote access learning, which was of great significance especially for many First Nations students living in small and isolated communities across the province.

Get in touch!

École Kelowna Secondary School
1079 Raymer Avenue
Kelowna, BC  V1Y 4Z7
Email: kss@sd23.bc.ca
Twitter: @kelowna_owls