Emanuel School Teacher wins NSW Premier’s Prize for STEM teaching

October 28, 2020

Emanuel School’s Head of Innovation and Digital Technologies (K-6), Sophie Poisel, has been awarded the coveted Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) Teaching in NSW.

“In a year that has provided our teachers with unprecedented challenges demanding ingenious solutions, Sophie Poisel from Emanuel School is a deserving winner of the Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics Teaching in NSW,” said NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte. “The commitment of teachers like Sophie will ensure that today’s students are the future prize recipients at events like this.” 

In 2018 Sophie received the Premier’s Commonwealth Bank Teacher Scholarship for STEM and spent five weeks visiting leading schools and universities across North America. Inspired by her experience, Sophie has implemented innovative teaching practices in her classroom, both within and beyond the curriculum.

Within the curriculum, Sophie works collaboratively with Emanuel School’s K-6 teachers to develop transdisciplinary units of inquiry that focus on real-world problem solving, and building students’ skills in Scientific, Systems, Computational and Design Thinking. She has connected industry experts with teachers to inspire students to pursue and maintain interest in STEM areas.

Sophie spent many hours designing and adapting the Primary Imaginarium as an effective space to encourage the exploration of scientific concepts through play, experimentation and tinkering.

Beyond the curriculum, Sophie has worked with groups of Emanuel students on projects related to personal passions or competitions. She designed and piloted an exciting after-school program at Emanuel School to develop students’ interest, confidence and aspirations in STEM. The program sought to break the stereotypes of what a scientist looks like, and what working in a STEM field involves, through connections with STEM experts. These projects have served to motivate and raise the profile of STEM.

Emanuel School’s Principal, Andrew Watt, commented: “Sophie’s passion for STEM is infectious. Together with our Primary teachers she has helped develop a deep interest in innovation and discovery amongst our students. She has been instrumental in encouraging children to achieve their potential and is an inspiring role model for students.”

Beyond the School, Sophie has taken opportunities to share her expertise by presenting at multiple conferences. Having been awarded a Google grant, Sophie designed and led a team to organise the DigiTech Deep Dive conference for Primary School educators, providing excellent networking and shared learning opportunities.

Sophie was delighted to receive the Premier’s Award: “I feel honoured to receive this award and to meet some of Australia’s leading scientists. I’m passionate about fostering curiosity and wonder in STEM and empowering students to see how STEM skills enable them to design and create a better world.”

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