Comox Valley teacher recognized for work in STEM

Comox Valley teacher recognized for work in STEM

Kara Dawson has been an information technology support teacher with the district for seven years

As a district information technology support teacher, Kara Dawson spends each week visiting different schools and different classrooms, spreading her passion for technology.

Recently, Dawson was awarded a Certificate of Achievement in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Dawson is one of 15 teachers across the country to receive this recognition.

“I feel totally honoured,” said Dawson. “I work with all these people in our district and I feel that they deserve this award too because they do all these crazy projects with me and try this new technology and take the risks.”

One day, Dawson could be in a Grade 2 classroom, teaching students to do basic coding to control Sphero robots – spherical robots that roll and light up in different colours. The next she may be in a Grade 8 class teaching the students how to write programs and create games relating to their other course material.

“The students learn problem-solving and to become digitally savvy. That’s what STEM is all about,” she said. “They’re trying to solve problems with their robots. They’re also coding the robot and learning computational thinking.”

Showing teachers how to use new technology is also a large part of Dawson’s role, as new programs and tools enter the classroom.

Dawson has been teaching in the school district for 22 years and came into this role seven years ago as she has always had a passion for technology. In those seven years, her role and the technology she uses have changed a lot.

She only introduced robotics into her teaching around four years ago and had to learn to code herself. She also continues to learn from other B.C. and Canadian educators about new technology and ways of incorporating it into classroom learning.

But one of her big motivators is getting students inspired by STEM and introducing the skills early.

She adds that only 22 per cent of people working in STEM jobs are women and she hopes to inspire more young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For more about the award and a list of recipients, visit https://bit.ly/2HUoW86