Teacher Spotlight - Matt McGovern - Applied Learning

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Applied learning allows students to explore new ideas and try new things, letting them develop skills within a safe environment that allows room for making mistakes. This exciting approach to learning involves introducing students to new fields, sparking their curiosity, and encouraging them to find solutions for the problems they encounter along the way.

 

International School Bangkok (ISB) Middle School Science teacher, Matt McGovern, uses an integrated approach to teaching about the scientific world. He shows students how a diverse set of ideas in physics, chemistry and biology intersect in real life. In one class, McGovern challenged his students with a creative concept: to work out how people could establish a colony on Mars. Students needed to consider all the necessary components of a successful voyage and settlement on Mars, learning in turn about each element of the project – and how to overcome the difficulties the settlers would face.

 

By stepping away from the textbooks and transferring their knowledge constructively in different situations, students are given the chance to develop their values, as well as attributes such as creativity, adaptability, and self-management skills. This approach to learning creates meaningful context, together with an exciting story to help package a program of integrated science education. The process also leads to the development of critical thinking skills – and is an excellent example of the type of engaging and inspirational approach we take to education.

 

Fun Learning Produces Motivated Learners

 

McGovern’s experience with integrated education was a core element of his teaching long before he arrived at our international school in Bangkok. As McGovern explains here, the benefits of such an approach have been evident to him for some time:

I used to work at a Science Centre that was up on the 115th floor of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. It was at the leading edge of interactive technology and environmental education for its time. Students would come on field trips with a great deal of excitement, so the content, challenge and accessibility needed to be solid. When learning is fun, engagement is high.

 

Powerful learning happens when students make personal connections with concepts. Framing science ideas in ways that make them accessible to the lives and the interests of Middle School students has generated a lot of excitement around our program.

 

This same philosophy is a driving force behind the Mars story for grade 7 science. Science is a human endeavor and there are few challenges that inspired people of all ages as much as space exploration.

 

McGovern understands the power of a strong storyline, helping students place themselves into the larger story of human civilization. “Science in the Middle School keeps a close eye on what is happening on the front lines of medicine, astronomy, climate change and technology, and we explore how new breakthroughs and discoveries are significant to our classes.” By linking his lessons to real issues affecting the outside world, McGovern provides his students with an understanding of how science impacts everyday life.

 

When asked where he gets his passion for teaching, McGovern singles out one element above all others: “The creative possibilities,” he says, adding: “I like to try new things, and develop lessons that can take our classes to new places. I like to be learning alongside the students, and be responsive to their ideas. Middle School is a wonderful time to fail forward. I hope that through the ethos of innovation in classes, students will be empowered to problem solve, design solutions, and create a vision for what is possible in a world.”

 

Please click on the link below to view the “Integrated Science and Technology Through Applied Learning”