Kent St SHS teacher recognised with PM’s Prize for Excellence in Science for innovative approach


The efforts of Kent Street Senior High School teacher Suzy Urbaniak to impart wisdom on students like Chris Sunley and Lee-an Lu has been recognised.
The efforts of Kent Street Senior High School teacher Suzy Urbaniak to impart wisdom on students like Chris Sunley and Lee-an Lu has been recognised.

SUZY Urbaniak does not believe in using textbooks in her classroom.

She would rather use social media and modern journals to teach her students at Kent Street Senior High School.

Her teaching efforts have been recognised after winning the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science, which was presented to her during an award ceremony in Canberra.

Ms Urbaniak worked as a geologist before life as a single parent necessitated a career change.

“As a mother of three and their primary care giver, I needed a job that was more compatible,” she said,

“I found that education had not changed much since I was at school and science education did not reflect true science and real field work.

“Science is about investigating and not just reading text books and doing arbitrary experiments.

“I wanted to teach science students about problem solving, creating answers from first-hand experiments and I wanted them to think about geoscience as career.”

Ms Urbaniak said the experience of winning the award was extraordinary.

“It made me feel special, it’s not good just for me but the school as well because the leaders have allowed me to think outside the box,” she said.

“Meeting Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt was great, they both believe in innovative science education.”

Ms Urbaniak said she found it shocking that minerals and energy, which played an integral role in WA, were not a key component of the curriculum at schools so she created the Centre of Resources Excellence program.

“The program has been in development for 10 years and it was officially launched this year,” she said.

“I want students to work on projects and collaborate together before presenting in a town hall style.

“The program is centered on the industry, one of the projects I was doing with my Year 10 students was about Barrow Island and the human biology of the Aboriginal people there.

“Some of the students have found the program difficult because they aren’t spoon fed but ultimately it’s rewarding for them.

“I’ve introduced the students to industry leaders because I want to show them pathways into the industry.”