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Pitt Meadows teacher wins Prime Minister’s Award

Kelvin Dueck honoured for work teaching STEM in classroom

A Pitt Meadows secondary physics, science and math teacher has been awarded a Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence in STEM.

Kelvin Dueck teaches Grades 9 through 12 and said, in a media release, that he will do almost anything to get his students engaged.

He even jumped out of a plane to teach his students a physics lesson about free fall, an event that came about after he won a silent auction bid at a grad fundraiser.

Dueck has also been known to make physics fun and relevant with demonstrations during which students rip a phone book in half, pilot a toy hovercraft or try out a bed of nails to prompt a discussion about force, area and pressure.

“I love this job. I’d do it for free,” Dueck said in an interview.

For him, teaching is about seeing the light go off behind a student’s eyes.

“I can never get enough of that. I can live off that for ages.”

He added that the universe is “cool,” and all he ever has to do is step aside to let his students learn.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM honour outstanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers at the elementary and secondary school levels and who keep students engaged in STEM learning, helping develop the culture of innovation that Canada needs.

Instead of making students memorize equations to solve problems, Dueck teaches students how to derive the physics involved for themselves, according to release.

Dueck adopted tablets for classroom work in 2004 and has been digitizing his lessons since, and posting them online. He also posts homework answer keys, extra practice questions and video clips, and now screen-casts his lessons on YouTube.

He uses online simulations in class to demonstrate concepts and lets students test them in engaging and interactive ways, such as learning about electrical fields by trying to guide a charged hockey puck through an on-screen maze.

Dueck was the subject of a short 2011 film by Microsoft on how to use OneNote to help students succeed. He created and presented a professional development session called “Newton’s Laws for Elementary Teachers” and delivered another session on how to incorporate energy conservation into the new Science 10 curriculum.

He introduced the school district to a wide-variety of technologies to help teachers, including a superior marks calculation and reporting program, a tablet that allows teachers to write on the screen with a stylus and digital textbooks.

Dueck also leads the district’s science curriculum committee by sharing resources and teaching strategies, mentoring new physics and math teachers. He suggests equipment in which the district can invest, and save money.

His motto: “Mistakes are expected, respected, inspected and corrected.”

Dueck said he doesn’t consider the award a “me” award, but one of “we.” He thanked both his students and colleagues who, to him, are the “giants” that lifted him up.

He even thanked the “Johnny Switchblades” of his classes.

“If you can make a light go off, you can change a life.”

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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