Highlights //

Teacher programme reignites passion for science (2014)

Biology teacher Erin Sycamore is a big fan of MWC teacher professional development days and the annual biological conference in Queenstown. She shares her experiences and delight over how the programme is expanding to smaller centres.

Samantha Holmberg L Charis Walker M Erin Sycamore R AR2014 Image WebWhen MWC’s professional development programme was run in Napier, Gisborne-based Erin Sycamore and a colleague were more than happy to drive the three hours there and back to attend the course.

“The programme is great for networking and I was able to provide fellow staff with information that we may not have previously known about, particularly the MWC website and resources that can be found there,” Erin says.

“I am also in touch now with like-minded individuals who are also passionate about biological sciences.” 

So when MWC expanded the programme Erin, Head of Science at Lytton High School, was delighted. “Gisborne is a very isolated area so it’s not very often that we have access to such good quality professional development in our own home town!”

Erin also attended the Queenstown Molecular Biology meeting in 2013, supported by an MWC travel scholarship.

“The conference was amazing! It reignited the passion that I have for science in general and showed me how much is going on in the world of research. I came back to school and shared the passion with my students encouraging them to look at the different pathways available to them.

“When I was at high school I discovered biology. I happened to have two really cool teachers who helped to further develop my interests.”

The teacher professional development programme, run by MWC Deputy Director Professor Peter Shepherd and Epsom Girls’ Grammar School teacher Rachel Heeney, expanded in 2014 to include smaller centres throughout New Zealand, such as Gisborne and Greymouth.

“When the idea of expanding was first mooted we had a huge amount of interest from teachers wanting us to come to every point in the country,” Peter says. 
“The feedback has been really good on multiple fronts. Presentations are directly aimed at the NCEA curriculum, but we are providing the correct and most up-to-date information to standardise teaching over the entire country. Teachers are also getting hooked up with the real world of science.”

In 2014, MWC professional development days were attended by 300 teachers nationwide, with events held in Tauranga, Gisborne, Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth and Christchurch.

Image: Lytton High School students Samantha Holmberg (left) and Charis Walker exploring science with teacher Erin Sycamore. Image courtesy Erin Sycamore, Head of Science, Lytton High School.