Anju Bajaj: From Top Level Research to the Classroom
Year: 2021 — Province: Manitoba
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Holy Cross School
Grades 1, 2, 7 and 8 – health education, physical education, science, social studies
“Anju is a STEM leader in every sense of the term. Through numerous engaging, hands-on learning opportunities in and outside the classroom, she fosters students’ intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development and cultivates their leadership abilities.”
Anju is more than a teacher. She is a consultant, public speaker, and lifelong learner. Dr. Bajaj is a practicing research scientist in cell pathophysiology at the St. Boniface Research Center. For Anju, education should be participatory. She often uses a flipped classroom model to pre-teach materials where students discover new content from online videos or electronic resources before the lesson. She encourages students to ask questions, seek answers, set goals, and perform self and peer assessments.
In the Classroom
Among her teaching techniques, Anju uses the 10:2 method. For every 10 minutes of instruction she allows students 2 minutes to process and respond to the instruction. At the end of a lesson, she has students use the 3-2-1 method of summarizing. Students record three things they learned - two interesting things and one question they have about the subject matter. This method allows students time to share their findings with a classmate and make learning a more communal and interactive activity.
Anju is really an original thinker. She believes that infusing arts into STEM is important. This is the way to make STEM cool and attractive for kids. Her work with the art teacher to demonstrate the theory of light and optical illusions is not only visually spectacular, but scientifically fascinating and filled with open-ended curiosity.
Anju’s initiatives and involvement have been recognised with various awards including the Science Teacher of the Year award – Science Teachers Association of Manitoba, the Global Educator Award – Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, the Outstanding Science Educator award – Bioscience Association of Manitoba, the Teacher Appreciation Award – Manitoba Schools Science Symposium, the K12 Ed Tech Educator of the Year Award - Mind Share Learning, and Excellence in Education Award - Manitoba Education and Training.
Anju is very much about innovative and exemplary teaching practices. One of her many activities is with the Kids’ New Horizons Program. This is a collaborative science program with the scientists and caregivers from St. Boniface Hospital, Cancer Care Manitoba, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, and the University of Manitoba. It is designed to support health and science literacy for students. It focuses on connecting STEM learning in the classroom to current research and daily work done at the science research facilities. Students participate in lab-based activities, seminars, science expos and research presentations.
In her recent collaboration with the Horizon Project she supported students in remote First Nations communities to access quality learning materials. STEM Activity kits provide them the opportunities to do STEM at home with limited adult supervision and limited technology. She also worked with the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council on a project toolkit - Inspiring First Nation Communities Towards STEM Opportunities – a project funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
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