INSPIRING WORK: Ipswich State High School science head of department Dr Grant Darnell has won a BHP Billiton Science Teachers Award for excellence in teaching.
INSPIRING WORK: Ipswich State High School science head of department Dr Grant Darnell has won a BHP Billiton Science Teachers Award for excellence in teaching. Sarah Harvey

Fun proven formula for award-winning teacher of science

AN IPSWICH State High School science teacher has been recognised for making an outstanding contribution to science education.

Science Head of Department Dr Grant Darnell is the recipient of the Queensland BHP Billiton Science Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2014.

Dr Darnell, a former research scientist with the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, has been teaching science at Ipswich High for nearly four years.

He was nominated for the prestigious gong by the Science Teachers' Association of Queensland and will travel to Melbourne in February for the national awards.

"I enjoy teaching and inspiring kids and the next generation," Dr Darnell said.

"I might be the recipient of the award but it's not really about me, it about the team here at Ipswich High."

Passionate about boosting student interest in science and maths, Dr Darnell has worked with the school to increase enrolments in biology, chemistry and physics subjects six-fold.

"When I first started we had about 25 Year 12 students studying biology, chemistry and physics. Now there are 150," he said.

This year, Ipswich High dux Elliott Cuttmore received the highest possible marks in biology and physics in the state. Dr Darnell said this was testament to the teachers at the school.

"We have PHD-qualified scientists like D Ian Tonks and ex-Vodafone engineer Ruth McLean, who helped roll out the Vodafone network in Australia, teaching science and physics to our kids," he said.

Dr Darnell coordinates a number of programs engaging local primary schools in science and maths. "It's about getting kids excited for science and maths, they are not boring subjects. We do 500 hands-on pracs a year at this school. When I started we did 50.

"Students are learning by having fun, not just sitting in the classroom looking at PowerPoints."



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