At Seacliff Primary School in Adelaide’s south, Brian Schiller’s students are describing states of matter, mixing of materials, and products of chemical reactions—in Japanese.
It’s just one way that Brian is creatively using science to enhance student learning in a range of curriculum areas.
“Science can be a basis for teaching many different subjects, such as language, music, numeracy, reading and writing,” he says. “Students can play and create, and relate their learning to the world around them.
“When my students are given practical experiences and a chance to learn through being active, they are then motivated to plan their paths of enquiry, present their ideas and then write about their discoveries. A good primary science class develops maths skills, language, and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The children and their learning are the focus of the classroom, and they inspire each other to such a great extent.”
Brian nurtures this creativity through student-initiated investigations, where the students bring the questions and Brian guides them in setting up investigations to get the answers.
But it’s not just the answers that Brian wants his students to get. It’s the ability to use their imaginations to ask “what if…?” or “why does…?” and to be able to find their own way to an answer using ‘fair testing’ and experimental controls.
For his contributions to science teaching and for taking it in new creative directions, Mr Brian Schiller has been awarded the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.