For over a year, Poh has worked with teacher Clarah Menezes and her grade 4-5 students in a coastal town in Novo Hamburgo, southern Brazil. When she met these kids, challenges surrounding their economic, health, and social conditions made it difficult for them to prioritize school and, in particular, science.
But when Clarah began working within Poh’s framework—science education that centres a relational and emotional connection with all subjects—the outcomes of her students transformed.
Since asking themselves, “Why are we learning this? And how can it help our fellow classmates?”, they’ve built a map in Braille for the several students with vision challenges.
They’ve developed a computer app that teaches sign language to help communication between deaf students and able listeners.
And, after learning about bacteria and viruses in the classroom, they researched how to make effective disinfectants and volunteered to clean bathrooms.
Clarah says the most important difference is in how they feel now: that they can make a difference in the world despite their socioeconomic status.
And that’s the whole point, Poh says. To empower kids to
know they can change the world.
“These kids we’re teaching—in Brazil, at Science World, the
schools I visit in BC—they will eventually become citizens making important
decisions that affect us all.
“To have the ability to critically examine each decision you’re about to make, especially from an emotional place, is so important. It will help us treat the world and each other in a better way. And that’s what’s important. That’s all that matters. That is what I truly feel.”
Poh would like express her gratitude to Science World for giving her the opportunity to bring science into classrooms across BC; Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education for their continual support of her research endeavours; Unisinos University and Clarah Menezes for collaborating to deepen her understanding of her teaching practice and bring change to her students; Mitacs Canada for providing funds that allowed for an international collaboration; and her family for being a continuous pillar of support through both PhD journeys. Visit Poh's website to learn more about all she does.
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