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.
Peter is Lead Coding Teacher at Vancouver Technical Secondary School with the Vancouver School Board.
What sparked your interest and eventual career in education, specifically integrating technology education and literacy?
My earliest recollection of being interested in technology was when my brother and I got a Commodore64. Computers were really cool to me as they were interactive and could respond to input as opposed to the televisions and plastic toys.
This interest mixed with my exposure to my father’s work (machinist and electrical engineer) got me interested in pursuing a career in technology. As I progressed through high school I quickly developed a love for biology; by grade 12 my favourite subjects were biology and metalworks. I wanted to pursue a degree in biotechnology as I wanted to work with people while still work with technologies. This career path at the time was very complicated and through my research I stumbled upon the Technology Teacher Education Program (offered through BCIT and UBC). I quickly decided that teaching Technology would be perfect for me… the rest is history.
What role does mentorship play in engaging youth in STEM?
Youth need to see themselves represented in STEM fields; without representation and pro-active engagement youth are left to what they learn from popular media. Mentorship also opens doors for students and provides them opportunities to engage in interesting fields rather than just reading about them.
Did you have a mentor who supported you in your work and own learning journey in STEM education?
I had several key mentors; a former boss who mentored me in the engineering and drafting field, a scout leader and friend who mentored me through automotive, and many school teachers in the STEM fields.
What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you plan your current career path?
Initially I wanted to be a veterinarian, working with koalas in Australia. In high school I became very interested in prosthetics and wanted to pursue a career in cybertechnology, medical engineering, and/or biomedical engineering. However, all of these paths led me to the Technology Teacher career path.
Tell us about your work with School District 39 and the Coding Mentors Program?
I am first and foremost a Technology Education teacher at Vancouver Technical Secondary; I specialize in drafting, design, robotics, and modern manufacturing. In addition to my school teaching, I also am the district’s Secondary - Lead Coding Teacher. The district team and I design and hold workshops for teachers wanting to learn more about coding and programming in BC’s Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies curriculum.
What is Science World’s role in promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC?
Science World is an excellent non-profit organization that has a large audience that education school districts don’t necessarily have. Science World is in a unique position to educate the general public how STEM influences our daily lives and making STEM more accessible to the general public.
Vancouver Technical Secondary School was established in 1916. In its earliest years, the school was a technical school (with all of the expected technical facilities) and served an exclusively male population. Girls were admitted to Vancouver Technical in 1940, major additions were built in 1954 and in 2011 a seismic upgrade was concluded. Today Vancouver Technical is a thriving learning community, proud of the many innovative programs and initiatives offered, in what has become the tradition of this ever dynamic and evolving (but also century-old) school!