Totara teacher picked for fellowship programme

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Totara School will be global leaders in science education if teacher and science fellowship recipient, Karolyn O’Connor, has her way.

Ms O’Connor, who lives in Oamaru, is spending the first two terms of this year as a Primary Science Teacher Fellow in Dunedin, one of only 14 chosen from around New Zealand.

Ms O’Connor usually teaches part-time at Totara School and said she plans to take science to a whole new level.

“Through skyping and all the technology that is now available to us, the kids are going to educate others about science,” she said.

“We’re going to teach them how to lead science experiments and share all our information with others.

“Science is already integrated into our everyday learning at Totara, through reading and writing as well.

“We read science articles in class all the time.”

Under the programme, teachers take leave from their schools to work with researchers at host organisations and learn more about science and its application.

Ms O’Connor has been working with Otago University research scientists to develop her laboratory and field work techniques, studying and quantifying micro-organisms and developing links with conservation scientists. She hopes some of these experts will visit Totara School and contribute to their teaching programme.

“It’s so good to have the time to develop my science teaching skills,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Usually there is no time for it.”

She said the people she has been working with have been inspirational because of their passion for science and their individual projects, and their willingness to share information.

“The best part is that I’m getting to see real scientists at work, discovering the nature of science and then learning about the teaching side as well.”

By LINDA MCCARTHY