We all know great teachers are like superheroes and for lead teacher Samantha Ephraims teaching children science and technology is just like giving them their own superpowers.
As Kalkie State School lead teacher for digital technologies and STEaM, Ms Ephraims is dedicated to bringing her passion for science and technology to the classroom.
And her accomplishments throughout 2022 alone echo her commitment to education. Not only did she gain her lead teacher accreditation, but she was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Awards for Science.
Ms Ephraims said her work spanned from the classroom, to supporting other teachers, building a robotics program, delivering a coding program and partnering with many other programs along the way.
Mrs Ephraims said her interest in these fields stem from her own time as a child in school.
Growing up, she said she had wonderful teachers who encouraged her and in high school she took all the sciences and math subjects.
For Ms Ephraims, digital literacy was equally as important as the literacy and numeracy children have been taught to focus on in the past.
She said news of data breaches and the Covid-19 pandemic were two prime examples of how digital literacy was not only relevant but could be extremely helpful when it came to collaboration and accessibility.
Ms Ephraims said education and the world kids are living in today was a “different ball game” compared to when she started teaching in 2000.
“I think a lot of people underestimate kids,” she said.
When Ms Ephraims brings up the fact that she teaches coding and robotics to primary school students, she said people were often taken aback, but kids were not afraid of technology or science. She said they were courageous and curious.
“Science is around us all the time,” she said.
And it’s a message she likes to ensure her students understand.
Ms Ephraims said science was in our kitchens, in agriculture, even our clothes.
She said we can all be curious, ask questions and make observations about what’s going on around us.
This is part of the reason she believes science and technology go so well hand-in-hand; they are a means of “looking backwards to look forwards”.
Some of the topics her students are tackling include water and food security, and alternatives to fossil fuels.
“I believe in the power of seven year olds,” she said.
“They aren’t jaded, and they are courageous.”
She said the kids coming through now have a lot of empathy and kindness towards each other.
Ms Ephraims said equity in access for the community was another focus the students had.
Looking to the new year, Ms Ephraims is already making plans for Science Week.
And further into the future, she believes machine learning – artificial intelligence and understanding it – could be the next big conversation for students and everyone for that matter.
Particularly “where we should draw the line and what that line should look like”.
She said the more we understand how it works, the better informed we can be when it comes to decision-making.
Ms Ephraims believes when harnessed correctly, it could improve quality of life, both environmentally and economically.
“I think it’s great that so many people have an interest,” she said.
“We need to give kids the opportunity to explore these fields.”
She said coding and robotics was a superpower and she teaches her students to “use those superpowers for good”.