Kirwan State High School
Townsville students are working with scientists to collect data on coral bleaching and have taken on a community education role to advise about threats facing the Great Barrier Reef.
Under Kirwan State High School (KSHS) Science teacher Zoe Hiddins, students have worked with environmental scientists at CoralWatch to collect data on ocean acidification and coral bleaching. They have then presented their findings to the community, including at a community discussion panel initiated by the students, and to environmental groups.
Zoe has also fostered partnerships between students and James Cook University’s Freshwater Turtle Longitudinal Population Study and Green Sea Turtle Population Study, giving pupils a chance to create solutions to real-world problems.
Her commitment to connect students with science outside of the classroom is just one of the reasons she has been named a finalist for the 2017 Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellence in Teaching Award. Zoe was flown to Brisbane for the Awards ceremony on 27 October, when Queensland celebrated World Teachers’ Day.
Zoe has also made an exceptional contribution to the Queensland’s marine science curriculum, earning formal recognition from former Premier Anna Bligh for writing the Coast and Marine Education syllabus.
Zoe said she was trying to develop her students “as agents of change”.
“If we can get these students to actually believe that they can make change happen, that they’re global citizens, and that they’re active citizens, then we can get them to make really valuable contributions. That can start now – we don’t need to wait until they’re adults,” she said.
“Seeing those students engage and develop their confidence, their leadership ability, and their ability to be independent learners ready to enter the big, wide world is probably the most rewarding thing about teaching.”
KSHS students also engaged recently in an international sustainability tour Zoe created called ‘Scientists Enacting Global Change – Indonesia Experience,’ in which they collaborated with Green School Bali and Bye Bye Plastic Bags Bali on more environmental science projects.
Students described the tour as life-changing.
KSHS Deputy Principal Steve Baskerville said the opportunities created by Zoe for students to work with real-world scientists involved in real-world problems had invigorated students.
“She has inspired many of them to pursue tertiary study in related disciplines,” Mr Baskerville said.
Congratulations Zoe on being a finalist.