Gold Coast Teacher Wins Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching
15 Nov 2021
Mudgeeraba Creek State School’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) specialist and primary teacher, Megan Hayes has received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools, in the 2021 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. Mrs Hayes is recognised for her outstanding work in championing the importance of STEM education for primary children, both in her community and at a national level.
As an innovative educator with more than 30 years’ teaching experience, Megan Hayes philosophy is to build the connection between science and its application in the real world for her students. She inspires students to think critically, take risks and become ‘agents of change’ for the future.
First attempt at learning
“In my classroom, we have a sign that says FAIL – this stands for ‘First Attempt At Learning’. It’s not my goal to set students up to fail, but I want to show them that the first attempt isn’t always a success. I encourage them to make mistakes. This is often when they begin to collaborate with their peers to work together in a problem-solving manner, and this is when the best learning takes place”, she says.
Megan Hayes developed and now leads a Professional Learning Team for Science at the school, which has positively impacted student learning outcomes. According to anecdotal evidence, many families seek enrolment at Mudgeeraba Creek State School because of the outstanding reputation of the STEM program at the school.
“Building relationships is something that I’m really passionate about”, Megan says. “Earlier this year I created the ‘Sistas in STEM’ mini-conference. This brought together over 35 young female students from around the region to learn from experts in the field, and they all left feeling excited about the possibilities of studying science in their senior years. My aim is to grow the conference so that it becomes an annual event that can cater to even more students, with the goal of inspiring them to think about taking up careers in science in the future.”
Expanding curriculum content
Mudgeeraba Creek State School Principal Deirdre von Guilleaume was full of praise for her STEM teacher, saying that Megan gives freely of her time and experiences to others, working tirelessly to give her students the skills and understanding to unlock the world around them.
“Megan works with high-profile ‘real world’ scientists to expand on current curriculum content. As a result of this ongoing collaboration, students in her Year 2 classes were able to create scientific diagrams and confidently explain concepts using terminology usually reserved for high school students”, the school principal said.
Megan Hayes also integrates contemporary digital tools and practices to deliver high quality teaching and learning in science. Her forethought to establish digital resources became pivotal during the COVID-19 pandemic. She digitised science resources and created engaging virtual lessons and experiments for home learning.