As part of Science Odyssey, we are interviewing a variety of STEM innovators to investigate pathways into STEM and to discuss the future of STEM learning and careers.
Marina Mehai is a Science and Digital Literacy Teacher at Port Moody Secondary School with the Coquitlam School District. She is interested in how inquiry and technology can support learners and the learning process. She believes that making space for reflecting on learning and helping students make personal connections to their learning is important for helping them discover their interests and passions within and beyond the curriculum.
What sparked your interest and eventual career in education, specifically integrating technology education and literacy?
My parents both value the importance of education and my mom especially instilled the importance of education and lifelong learning within me. Their support and following my personal interests led me to an undergraduate degree in Science. I considered graduate school in Science, but a part-time job at Science World during my undergraduate degree shifted my plans. Instead, I found my love of teaching through my work with youth and teaching workshops as part of my job. Once in the teaching profession, I went on to complete my Master of Education in Curriculum Studies, which really brought together my areas of interest in a meaningful way. Even today, my passion for learning and personal growth has led me to keep involved in pro-d opportunities centring on technology, coding, and digital literacy and I’m excited to now introduce these aspects of STEM into my teaching practice.
What role does mentorship play in engaging youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)?
In my current role, I have a community of mentors and critical friends who I go to for advice and support. They keep me engaged and excited about what we are teaching and learning as well as where our trajectory may take us. Having one or more people who are there to support and guide you on your personal learning journey is essential. I can see how mentors can play a key role in shaping the lives of our students through their support and guidance. This is especially true for STEM careers as this field is constantly changing. Making connections and staying engaged in new and relevant learning is essential for personal growth and success in this field.
Did you have a mentor who supported you in your work and own learning journey in STEM education?
I enjoyed Science in school, but it wasn’t until Grade 11 when I took both Biology and Work Experience, that I saw how Science could live beyond the classroom. My Biology teacher was also my Work Experience Coordinator and she did a great job at securing various placements in hospitals and science labs, as well as inviting guest speakers to share what they do. She was one of my first mentors who provided me with the opportunities and experiences I didn’t even know I could access as a high school student.
What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you plan your current career path?
Growing up, I had many different ideas of what I might do when I was older. I never had one specific career in mind, but once I found my way to Science and Education, I found my passion. Science excites me in its possibilities and room to wonder, but education has allowed me to share my passion with others. I couldn’t ask for a better merging of my passions.
Tell us about your work with School District 43 and BC Green Games?
I’m a Science teacher currently working at Port Moody Secondary School. Before going into teaching full time, I worked in the informal learning context at Science World. There, I had a chance to see BC Green Games develop from the beginning and flourish into a celebration of the wonderful work that students are doing from K to Grade 12 across British Columbia. I love our beautiful backyard and it’s been great to share that with a group of environmentally-dedicated youth in my role as the Green Team Sponsor Teacher at my school for the third consecutive year. Over the last few years, they’ve been involved in a few projects including electronics drives, battery recycling, community clean-up projects and fundraising for new water refill stations for our school.
My current portfolio has me teaching Junior Science, Chemistry and Earth Science. Next year, I’ll be teaching Biology, Digital Literacy as well as Junior Science. I’ve been with the district for about ten years now and every year is a learning adventure. Over the last year, from my involvement in our school district’s Micro:bit initiative and through my connections with our district’s Technology Support Teachers, I have begun to weave coding and computational thinking into my Junior Science classes. For next year, I’m excited for the potential learning opportunities and collaborations that will arise with merging of Digital Literacy across our curricula including in my own Science classes.
What is Science World’s role in promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC?
Science World has a lot of programs that introduce students to and get them excited about Science. Future Science Leaders and BC Green Games are just two of such programs that students at my school have been involved with. Science World also does a lot to support teachers through their Pro-D for teachers including Teacher Evenings and involvement in the Provincial Pro D day. One such pro-d event for teachers is the upcoming STEAM days of summer. I’ve heard great things from last year’s event and I’m sure this year’s will be amazing too!
Check out Port Moody Secondary’s 2018 BC Green Games project here: https://www.bcgreengames.ca/project/port-moody-green-team2199 Science World’s BC Green Games supports BC teachers and promotes place-based environmental education. This project-style, inquiry-based program is a 21st century learning opportunity in scientific exploration, storytelling, media arts and advocacy
Today, we kick off our Green Roof Tours at 11am and 3pm. Come and experience spectacular views of False Creek, learn about local sustainability projects, and meet the bees with a Science World beekeeper. Or, investigate more at home or school with these great activities exploring Pollinators from Science World Resources.