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Congrats PM Prize-winning teachers!

Two teachers have taken out the top prize for science teaching: Scott Graham from Barker College, NSW, for secondary schools, and Megan Hayes, from Mudgeeraba Creek State School, QLD, for primary schools.

The prizes were announced in a virtual ceremony last night, along with prizes for Australia’s top scientists.

Scott is the head of agriculture and a strong advocate of agricultural careers, an area where student enrolments have dropped, while demand for graduates has increased. Scott’s focus on agriculture in the school has seen enrolments triple over the past seven years and the school now has double the number of Year 12 agriculture students than any other school in Australia. Around 30% of these students have gone on to agriculture-related degrees at uni.

“One of our strategies has been to develop a range of resources and teaching materials that make students think about how agriculture fits into the bigger picture,” says Scott.

“Whether it’s dealing with food security or climate change, we want students to be involved in making a difference.”

Agricultural education a big opportunity for students

Scott is also completing a PhD in agricultural education, and he remains passionate about the possibilities for agriculture as a career.

“There’s currently around five jobs available for each university graduate in agriculture, and my goal is to see more students pursue this field and fill the jobs in the sector.

“To be recognised in the Prime Minster’s Prizes for Science acknowledges not only the importance of teaching and education, but the integral role of agriculture in our nation. I hope this recognition inspires students across Australia to take up agriculture, and teachers to continue to support the subject in schools across the country,” he said.

READ MORE: How to work in cyber security AND agriculture

Sistas in STEM teacher takes out Primary award

The Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools was awarded to Megan Hayes from Mudgeeraba Creek State School, a strong advocate of STEM who has partnered with high-profile STEM professionals to enhance her lessons and events.

Megan has worked on developing digital tools and practises in her teaching, and to promote the participation of girls in STEM. In 2021, 35 girls aged 11-13 took part in the first ‘Sistas in STEM’ conference from seven local Gold Coast Schools.

“My aim is to grow the conference so that it becomes an annual event that can cater to even more students, with the goal of inspiring them to think about taking up careers in science in the future,” she said.

“Science is about textbooks anymore. It’s about taking risks, trial and error and having lots of fun.

“Even outside the classroom, students will come and tell me about something they have read or seen. Science has become almost a language at the school – it forms the fabric of our school culture.”

READ MORE: Is your maths teacher a secret YouTube star?

Scientists’ achievements in COVID, cancer and brain disorders recognised

The scientists taking out the major prizes last night includes Professor Edward C. Holmes from the University of Sydney, the first person in the world to publicly share the genome sequence of COVID-19, fast-tracking research into the virus.

Professor Sherene Loi, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre took out the prize for her research developing an immune biomarker test for breast cancer, to help manage patients with the advanced disease.

Associate Professor Michael Bowen, University of Sydney was awarded the ground-breaking discovery of KNX100, a novel molecule that is now being commercialised to help treat addiction and serious brain disorders that lack effective treatments – such as opioid-use disorder, which kills more people in Australia each year than car accidents.

READ MORE: Download our free Science magazine



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