Remarkables teacher wins science prize

Remarkables Primary School teacher Sarah Washbrooke who was yesterday awarded the 2020 Prime...
Remarkables Primary School teacher Sarah Washbrooke who was yesterday awarded the 2020 Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize. Photo: Supllied.
A Queenstown teacher has been recognised as one of the top science minds in the country.

Remarkables Primary School teacher Sarah Washbrooke has been awarded the 2020 Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize, worth $150,000.

The Science Teacher Prize is open to registered science, mathematics and technology teachers in primary, intermediate or secondary schools.

Ms Washbrooke has taught at the school since 2016 as its technology specialist teacher, focusing primarily on years 6 to 8.

She said her hands-on approach to teaching meant her pupils were often unaware of the depth and range of learning they were doing.

"They usually start by creating something or designing something or making something, and then we bring in other aspects.

"A lot of my students don't actually realise that they are doing a lot of maths and English and scientific principles in technology until I actually point it out afterwards that they have done an hour of writing, for example, in computational thinking."

She said pupils also developed empathy and resilience through following the "design-thinking" process.

"Because life isn’t straightforward, there are always going to be problems and setbacks, so if they can learn to learn for themselves, and they can learn to solve problems and go back again and be prepared to try again, then those skills are going to set them up for life in the future, too."

Ms Washbrooke has taught technology for 23 years, the past 17 of those in New Zealand.

She has created technology assessment rubrics and science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and technology programmes for her pupils in all areas of the technology curriculum, from robotics and sewing to gardening and digital technology.

Those have been shared with teachers across the country through discussion forums, webinars and Facebook groups.

In 2019, Ms Washbrooke received the Technology New Zealand (TENZ) outstanding technology teacher award for continued excellence in technology teaching and was runner-up for the Genesis School-gen super teacher award.

The selection panel was impressed with the way her work increased pupil participation in engagement in technology at the school and in the community, and that she had developed and shared resources to the wider New Zealand technology teaching community.


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