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Benjamin Kelly: A master of STEMpathy education

Transcription – Benjamin Kelly, Prime Minister's Award recipient

[Black screen fades up to a white background, with the following words appearing, line by line: Prime Minister's Awards. Music playing. Fade to black and then up white and grey screen with medium shot of man, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right and voice over: Benjamin Kelly, Caledonia Regional High School, Hillsborough, New Brunswick.]

[Fade to black and then to photos, with voice over. Photos: Benjamin standing holding a tablet in front of  him; Benjamin at a table with a tablet computer in front of him, speaking to five students and pointing to something on the table; a close up model of building made of wood; student looking at a 3D model on a large computer screen; students sitting around a laptop, looking at large computer screen in a classroom; two students sitting at a table with a model car on it, looking at a tablet; a student wearing virtual reality goggles, holding a controller and standing beside a desktop computer.]

Believing that "the world has enough flashlight apps," Benjamin Kelly encourages students in his wildly popular STEM programs to develop real solutions to real problems. He created the first K–12 dronography program in Canada. In it, students practise disaster relief deliveries and do flood damage surveys. His STEMpathy Centre is a safe space that attracts students from all grades to practise their STEM skills, build community and connect with the world.

[Fade to white with close-up shot of man, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left:

[Fade to black and then up white and grey screen with medium shot of man, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right: Benjamin Kelly, Caledonia Regional High School, Hillsborough, New Brunswick. Voice over: Benjamin Kelly.]

[Fade to white, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in black.]

Year: 2019 — Province: New Brunswick
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Benjamin Kelly

Technology, Computer Science, Math, Cybersecurity, Digital Productions, Entrepreneurship, Co-op Education, Environmental Science and Media Studies, grades 6–12
Caledonia Regional High School, Hillsborough, New Brunswick

"The technology he has in his room is incredible. … There is always so much going on and he keeps adding more and more. I love how he creates a project mission with us and lets us choose how we accomplish that mission."
— Student

Every single student at Caledonia Regional High enrols in Benjamin Kelly's STEM program, giving him direct access—and a positive influence over—every graduate from this small rural school.

Teaching approach

Benjamin focuses on empathy and global competencies in his many courses and extracurricular activities, while creatively supporting students' STEM mastery. With his catchphrase, "The world has enough flashlight apps," he encourages students to develop real solutions to real problems.

STEM in the classroom

  • Created the STEMpathy Centre where students can reach out to peers around the globe through Skype, increasing their sense of belonging; the room is a safe space for high school students to build community via STEM activities, and a spot for middle schoolers to practise their STEM skills.
  • Harnesses the video game Minecraft for learning: for example, students from six continents are building responses to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in a shared world Benjamin set up.
  • Encourages students to pursue personalized learning through STEM: one designed the Pink Flag for Anti-Bullying Awareness now sold and flown across Canada; another developed an app to translate common school phrases from Arabic into English for newcomers to the school.
  • Provides opportunities to pursue STEM outside the class: students helped hand-release Atlantic Salmon into a river system, and designed and released a high-altitude STEM balloon

Outstanding achievements

  • Responsible for many firsts the school has achieved, including having the first K–12 dronography program in Canada (students practise disaster relief deliveries and do flood damage surveys with a fleet of more than 10 drones); students were the first creators of iOS apps in Atlantic Canada.
  • Leads school's Community Engagement Professional Learning Community: attracts co-op and professional development opportunities, along with advanced technology not seen in schools.
  • Named Apple Distinguished Educator Advisory Board Member for the Americas, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, New Brunswick STEM Educator of the Year Award and an NB Innovator (a rare provincial honour he shares with the inventor of the scuba tank).
  • Provincial leader in creating and piloting STEM and digital citizenship education resources, and was part of teams that created the province's STEM curriculum for grades 6 to 10.
Transcription – Benjamin Kelly- 2019 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM

[Black screen fades up to medium shot of man in interview setting against a white background. Music playing.]

"The main factor that I believe contributes to a student having success at school would be the relationship between the teacher and the student."

[Fade to black and then to photos, with voice over. Photos: Benjamin Kelly at a table with a tablet computer in front of him, speaking to two students and pointing to something on the table; a student wearing virtual reality goggles, holding a controller and standing beside a desktop computer.]
"If a student and a teacher have a great relationship, it goes beyond student learning and it can actually strengthen school communities."

[Fade to white with close-up shot of man, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Benjamin Kelly, Caledonia Regional High School, Hillsborough, New Brunswick. Fade to black and then up to close-up of Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"In my classroom, I have a program that I call STEMpathy. And, it's more than just a fancy name. It's the combination of the two things that I believe my students need moving forward."

[Cut to video of Benjamin speaking to his fellow recipients from behind a podium during his presentation on best practices in the classroom.]

[Voice over.]

"STEM is great, but there was a piece missing, an ingredient missing from my program."

[Cut back to Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"And, when I discovered that it was empathy, it changed everything for me. So, from now on, we are focussing on empathy as a purpose in STEM class."

[Fade to black and then back to close-up of Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"You can just make a flashlight app, but the world has enough flashlight apps, so what we do is we look for our purpose. We've had students making translating apps for Syrian students in the classroom. We've had students making soundboard apps for non-communicative students. With drones, we've got the first drone program in Canada in our school. So instead of just flying for fun and drone racing, what we do is we do flood surveying, disaster relief of first aid using drones. So, it's really finding that purpose to help others."

[Jump to medium shot of Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"So I really feel by adding empathy to my STEM program, I'm really setting our kids up not only for success in their careers but also to be successful citizens in the future."

[Fade to black and then to video of Benjamin giving his best practices presentation; photos of various recipients listening; Benjamin interacting with fellow recipients; more video of his presentation.]

[Voice over.]

"My ideal classroom has been influenced greatly by being here at the Prime Minister Awards, and meeting those other teachers from across the country who are just outstanding."

[Cut back to Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"I would actually try to balance my classroom 50/50, if not more, outside. Get the kids outdoors more. Get them doing experiential learning outside but, at the same time, when we're in the classroom, there would be no sitting. It would be standing desks everywhere, if we did have desks."

[Fade to black and then back to Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"I start with a mission. So the kids know that the first five minutes are mine. I love that trade off with them because I say, 'The first five minutes are mine. The rest of the time is yours and ours, together."

[Fade to black and then to photos, with voice over. Photos: students sitting around a laptop, looking at large computer screen in a classroom; student looking at a 3D model on a large computer screen]

"After I pitch that mission, I'm not a facilitator. I get in there with the kids and I actually get dirty."

[Cut back to Benjamin in the interview setting.]

"But I really find I can learn more working with the students on their projects than just simply circulating around and facilitating the project.

[Fade to black and then to photos with voice over. Photos: Benjamin posing with the other recipient of the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM and a Mountie on Parliament Hill; Benjamin giving the thumbs up with Paul Thompson, Associate Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, having receiving his Prime Minister's Awards pin; Benjamin and his son trying out some of the exhibits at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology.]

"If I could tell my students anything, I'd want to thank them for always having an open mind and diving head first into the wildness that I often bring to the classroom."

[Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Get in touch!

Caledonia Regional High School
35 School Lane
Hillsborough NB E4H 3B8

506-734-3710
Donna.Godfrey@nbed.nb.ca; http://caledonia.nbed.nb.ca
Twitter: @CRHSNB, @BBTNB

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