Academic journal article Teaching Science

Congratulations Matthew McCloskey, Winner of the 2011 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Academic journal article Teaching Science

Congratulations Matthew McCloskey, Winner of the 2011 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Article excerpt

Matthew McCloskey is in the vanguard of the renaissance of primary science teaching in Australia--bringing real science experiments back into the classroom, building on his own experience as a research scientist and zoologist.

At Sydney Grammar's Edgecliff Preparatory School, he and a colleague teach Science to every student from kindergarten to year six at least once a week. He has learnt what if takes to deliver a great science class, and he is sharing this in his writing for the National Science Curriculum and in his support of his peers.

For his leadership in primary science teaching, Matthew McCloskey receives the 2010 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.

As a PhD student and working research scientist Matthew McCloskey realised that most of his science colleagues traced their passion for Science to back to good teaching at primary school. That realisation triggered a change in direction. My earliest childhood memory is of catching ladybirds in a rose bush, Matthew says. And he spent hours in the bush chasing lizards.

Those early experiences started a lifelong interest in zoology. It led to a zoology degree at the University of Sydney and honours, looking at the energetics and locomotion in hopping marsupials. Then to a Masters and PhD in animal and human physiology.

  I met many very good scientists who traced their passion for science
  to early childhood and primary school. And for me, that confirmed the
  truism: show me the child before they are seven, and I'll show you
  the person, he says.

Matthew turned to teaching and, for the last thirteen years, has taught at Edgecliff.

How can you identify a good science class? Matthew says you can see it in the activity: children working on their own, confident enough to be sceptical about the results they are collecting themselves, and in the process, forming valuable opinions about Science itself.

  In my classes the children do Science. We set out to investigate.
  Students are coming up with their own questions, designing their own
  experiments, making observations and interpreting and drawing
  conclusions."

Matthew's longstanding interest in amphibians and reptiles sees him still active as a volunteer--with the Australian Museum and doing fieldwork at Olympic Park. …

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