This page belongs to: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2020
Mrs Sarah Fletcher
Bonython Primary School’s STEM Specialist Teacher Sarah Fletcher is recognised for her outstanding contribution to not only the STEM program at Bonython Primary School, but also the wider education community in the ACT. She is renowned for her innovative and imaginative teaching practices, driven by a firm belief that real learning can only happen when students form an emotional attachment to their subject matter.
Beyond the classroom, Sarah has been instrumental in the evolution of STEM teaching in the ACT. She has been a member of the Science Educators’ Association of the Australian Capital Territory (SEAACT) council for 15 years. She also created the STEM Specialist Primary Teacher Network to connect with other STEM teachers.
Watch a video about her work
Sarah Fletcher talks about her research and contribution.
[Music plays and an image shows the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the words ‘Australian Government’ the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools medallion and the text beneath: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science Mrs Sarah Fletcher]
[Images move through too show tins of coloured pencils, post it notes stuck onto posters posing science questions, and the Bonython Primary School entrance sign]
Sarah Fletcher: My name’s Sarah Fletcher and I’m the STEM Specialist Teacher at Bonython Primary School in the ACT.
[Image changes to show Sarah sitting in a classroom and talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Sarah sitting at a table with a group of students working on an electronic project]
I’ve been teaching for 18 years now and 13 of those years have been as a STEM Specialist Teacher.
[Camera zooms in on Sarah talking to the students and then images move through of Sarah and colleagues working on laptops and talking around tables]
I think the thing that’s set me apart to be recognised in the Prime Minister’s Prizes was the work that I do for teachers with other teachers.
[Image changes to show Sarah talking to the camera]
I created the Primary STEM Teacher Workshop as a response to a questionnaire that I sent out to all ACT teachers.
[Image changes to show a profile view of Sarah talking to the camera]
What I found was that not only did teachers not know what was out there, they didn’t know where to look to find it. And I thought, “I can solve that problem.”
[Images move through of students working on electronic projects around a table, Sarah leaning over the table and helping them, a close view of Sarah talking to students, and Sarah and colleagues talking]
In Australia, we have so many industry providers that go out of their way to make sure that they have fantastic education resources; and my job is to connect teachers with those providers, to connect teachers with teachers.
[Image changes to show Sarah in the classroom talking to the camera and then the image changes to show students working on electronic projects around a table, and then Sarah helping the students]
The ANU Science Enrichment Day is an event that I established when I realised that there’s a lot of confusion among kids about the educational pathway they need to take to attain a career in science.
[Images move through of a close view of the students’ hands working on the electronic project, a view looking down on the students at work, and a profile view of Sarah talking to the camera]
That event invites schools from the Tuggeranong region to nominate students to work through real science problems for a day in a university laboratory, which they just find absolutely, incredibly amazing.
[Images move through of Sarah talking to the students as they work at the table, a close view of a student working on an electronic project, and a group of very young students looking at a snail]
Science in primary schools is such an important thing because that’s when they’re discovering their world around them.
[Images move through of a close view of the child watching the snail on the plate]
It’s like watching a child walk for the first time.
[Image changes to show a student stroking a blue tongue lizard and then the image changes to show Sarah working with students using tins and string to perform a sound experiment]
I get to share in them truly understanding things for the very first time in their lives.
[Camera zooms in on two of the students and then the images move through to show Sarah working with students in the classroom at a desk, and then Sarah talking to the class]
It means so much to me personally to be recognised as a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science for Excellence in Primary Teaching.
[Image changes to show Sarah picking up a snail from a student’s plate and then the image changes to show Sarah talking to the camera]
But more than that, the inclusion of a teaching prize, or two teaching prizes, within the Prizes is a testament to the role that education plays in creating the scientists of the future.
See her acceptance speech
Sarah Fletcher accepted her prize at this year’s live streamed event.
[Image appears of Sarah Fletcher talking to the camera and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools medallion and text appears: Mrs Sarah Fletcher]
Sarah Fletcher: I’m honoured to receive the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools. And I’d like to thank the selection committee for selecting me as this year’s award recipient.
I’d like to thank my family. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my parents, my husband Ian, and my children, William and James.
The Science Educators Association of the ACT has played a large role in my development, and I thank Vicki Stavropoulos for encouraging me to join Council.
[Image continues to show Sarah talking to the camera]
Thank you to my colleagues, both teachers and those within the science industry. Teaching science is so much more rewarding when we can share our experiences. I’ve been fortunate in my career to be in schools which value and encourage innovation.
And I’d like to thank both Greg Terrell and Matt Holdway for encouraging me to take risks, innovate, and dream big. My time at the Australian National University was a turning point in my life and I’d like to thank Professor Scott Keogh for believing in me and fostering the passion I have for science today.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank my past, present, and future students. Thank you for allowing me to share your exploration and your excitement as you discover and truly understand the world around you.
[Music plays and the image changes to show the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the words ‘Australian Government, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools medallion, and text beneath: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Mrs Sarah Fletcher]