This page belongs to: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2023

2023 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Ms Donna Buckley 

John Curtin College of the Arts’ Ms Donna Buckley received the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.

Ms Buckley is inspiring students with diverse, creative backgrounds to apply mathematics to real-world problems, and introducing them to careers in science. 

She created an accredited cybersecurity course in Western Australia to educate students about ways to make our country more safe and secure in an online environment.

Her initiatives include a Maths Talent Quest, which encourages students to think creatively about mathematics. She also launched a project on sustainable travel for Year 8 students, and a project for Year 9 students to explore science using Indigenous art.

Donna continues to encourage students to think creatively about maths and consider future career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She also champions professional development and has impacted the way teachers in Western Australia approach STEM education.

Watch video highlights

Transcript

[Music plays and an image appears of a Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools medallion above text: Donna Buckley]

[Images move through to show a medium and then close view of Donna Buckley talking to the camera, Maths signs on a board, and various maths activities]

Donna Buckley: Being a maths teacher in a college of the arts, my role is to sell STEM to creative students. 

[Music plays and images move through to show Donna talking to students, and then Donna talking to the camera, and text appears: Donna Buckley, Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools]

My name is Donna Buckley. I’m a mathematics and cyber security teacher at John Curtin College of the Arts in Western Australia. 

[Music plays and images move through to show an aerial view looking down on the John Curtin College of the Arts, a facing view of the college, and a close view of the college sign]

[Image changes to show a medium view of Donna talking to the camera, and then the image changes to show a close view of Donna talking to the camera]

John Curtin College of the Arts has nearly 2000 students who come here for their passion for the arts but that doesn’t mean that it’s only the arts. 

[Images move through to show Donna talking with students, students listening, and students raising their hands to answer a question]

My role is to engage students for a love of programming and engaging girls through that. 

[Images move through to show a close view of Donna talking to the camera, Donna looking at a display of dress designs, Donna picking up a model dress, and a close view of the model dress]

I make connections for my students to the real world to their passions to the arts so I can relate mathematics to them. 

[Image changes to show a medium and then close view of Donna talking to the camera, a view of a laptop screen, and students working on laptops]

In mathematics we play with the problem, we write an algorithm, we write a computer program to solve it. 

[Images move through to show a dotted map of Australia on a laptop screen, Donna talking to the camera, and a medium view of Donna talking to the camera]

My girls connect to the Perth node of the programming network which connects to nodes across Australia where women teach secondary students how to code.

[Music plays and images move through to show a student turning pages in a text book, students at work, Donna teaching the students, a pile of maths text books on a desk, and a laptop screen]

I’ve retrained so I could offer a cyber security course in my school. 

[Image changes to show students smiling, and then the image changes to show a dotted world map on a laptop screen showing lines between various countries]

It’s so important from a young age for cyber safety messages. 

[Images move through to show views of Donna talking to the camera, brochures on a desk, students smiling together, a ‘#seeherbetter’ sticker, and students looking at a Toblerone box]

We also need to show students that there are possibilities for careers in this industry and from a diverse range of backgrounds. 

[Images move through to show students making a dress model from paper, various signs, Donna helping the students, and a student writing in a notebook]

And it’s that diversity that will help us to overcome the challenges that are ahead and the problems that we need to solve. 

[Music plays and images move through to show a laptop, students working on laptops, a diagram of a triangular prism shaped box, and students looking at a Toblerone box]

When students apply mathematics to real world problems that are of interest to them, the results are just amazing. 

[Images move through to show Donna talking to the camera, Donna teaching the students, the students at work, Donna helping the students, and Donna talking to the camera]

They may not be a computer scientist but be prepared to take risks, to learn, to keep learning, to solve problems, that’s where the give-back is in education. 

[Images move through to show Donna helping the students, and then the image changes to show Donna smiling at the camera]

To receive the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools is such an honour. 

[Image changes to show a Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools medallion on the left, the Australian Government Coat of Arms at the bottom right, and text on the right: 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools]

It validates the work that we’ve been doing putting maths on the map. 

[Music plays]