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Bullsbrook teacher goes back to school

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Proving the old adage that learning never stops is true, 26 chemistry teachers from all over the state descended on Curtin University of Technology recently to update their chemistry concepts.

Teaching Chemistry for Understanding was attended by teachers from locations as diverse as Carnarvon, Como and Kalgoorlie. These teachers came with a desire to acquire skills that would help them become better teachers.

One of the participants was Bullsbrook District High School science teacher Wendy Claxon.

According to Wendy, this was a most appreciated opportunity to improve her skills.

“The workshop was great,” she said.

“We were shown the latest in chemistry research and how this relates to the real world.

“Particularly interesting was hearing about the research that Curtin is undertaking in nanotechnology and water treatment.

“This links what we are teaching in the classroom back to the real world.

“We were also able to conduct some chemistry experiments that I hadn’t done before. I look forward to taking this back to my students.”

According to Associate Professor Vaille Dawson from Curtin’s Science and Mathematics Education Centre, this program was an excellent way for teachers to improve their professional skills, ultimately benefiting Western Australian students.

“This program offers high school chemistry teachers a range of opportunities they would otherwise not have,” said Associate Professor Dawson.

“They were given the chance to conduct a range of hands-on experiments that they can take back to the classroom, such as making nylon, silver mirrors and experimenting with emissions colours.

“Also on offer was a range of talks by some of Western Australia’s leading researchers. They were then able to take a tour of Curtin’s new state-of-the-art Resources and Chemistry Precinct, which is currently being built.”

Teaching Chemistry for Understanding is a partnership with the Science Teachers Association of WA (STAWA) and is designed to take teachers through how to identify and deal with student misconceptions. It also provides them with the chance to hear about the cutting-edge, international research Curtin chemists are undertaking.

This is the second professional development program run by Curtin and STAWA for science teachers in 2009. A successful physics workshop was conducted in February and a biology program is planned for later in the year.

“Curtin has a strong commitment towards providing all Western Australians with a better understanding of science,” said Associate Professor Dawson.

“These programs, along with our recognised tertiary courses, allow us to do this.”

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