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Paul King: Heading under the sea to open up the world

Year: 2020 — Province: Newfoundland and Labrador
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Mount Pearl Senior High
Physics and science, grades 10 to 12
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador

There has been no other high school teacher in Newfoundland and Labrador, to my knowledge, who has made such a positive impact on motivating youth to study STEM fields in university.

dean of engineering and applied science

Paul King opens the world to his students, whether he's helping them build underwater robots or apply to a national STEM program. However, his commitment to youth goes beyond science and his school's walls. Besides serving on school councils and committees, and acting as a branch president of the provincial teachers' association, he has coached school and community sports teams.

Teaching approach

Paul challenges students to think critically, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to avoid taking the easy way out. With a hands-on approach to student learning, his robotics team designs and builds a new underwater vehicle each year.

STEM in the classroom

  • Promotes project-based learning: presents a problem and the theoretical framework to solve it, then gives students the time, space and tools to do so; for instance, students use computer-aided design software, SolidWorks CNC and 3D printing to build remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs).
  • Facilitates students' access to external STEM programs: helps them apply to SHAD (a month-long summer STEAM program) and the summer physics school at the Perimeter Institute.
  • Uses the Arduino open-source electronics platform to teach programming: creates fun, engaging and interactive challenges, and lets students pursue ideas, even if they make mistakes or fail; students develop curiosity and resilience.
  • Inspires interest in engineering: alumni come to Paul's classes as guest speakers; many of his pupils go on to study engineering at the post-secondary level; a recent Memorial University graduating engineering class included 10 of Paul's former students, including 5 women.

Outstanding achievements

  • Runs an extensive extra-curricular underwater robotics program: meeting for 10 hours a week, students conceive, design, build and test robotic ROVs; teams have participated in 12 provincial and 4 international competitions.
  • Promotes competitions as a way to give students real-world experience: students have helped retrieve aircraft wreckage, inspect dams, collect earthquake data, and study the environmental impact of oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico and the effect of climate change on coral reefs.
  • Supports physics education at the provincial level: has served on working groups for curricular review and corrected provincial physics exams.

Get in touch!

Mount Pearl Senior High
46 Ruth Avenue
Mount Pearl NL  A1N 2H5

Twitter: @HuskiesMPSH

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