Michael Ng holds a model of buckminsterfullerene, a molecule that has a fused-ring structure. Photo credit: Ziyou Zou
Engaging. Exciting. Educational. These words describe the unique teaching style of the 2016 Beaumier Award for High School/Cégep Chemistry Teachers recipient Michael Ng of Paul Kane School, St. Albert, Alta. This annual award is presented in recognition of excellence in teaching, promoting and encouraging chemistry at the high school or Cégep level. “Science is already fun but it also has to be relevant to the curriculum and to the real world. Learning is a new beginning we can give ourselves every day,” says Ng.
Ng pursued science at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. However, his love of the field first started in the very high school where he now teaches. It was the passion of his own high school science and art teachers that inspired him to pursue his career as an instructor. Ng brings real life examples and “science magic” into his classroom to show that chemistry is not just labs and experiments — it’s also enjoyable and intriguing.
Michael Ng watches students burn methane gas captured in soapy water. Water has a high specific heat capacity, which protects their hands. Photo credit: Ziyou Zou
“Every unit he would spare a few classes to explain the great things that resulted or could be achieved with what we learned. It was these extravagant and grander parts of chemistry that peaked my curiosity and resulted in my eventual decision to be an engineer,” says former student Avtar Mandaher.
While pursuing his chemistry degree, Ng became a volunteer with many museums, community clubs and organizations. This volunteerism continued into his career in both school and community settings. A firm promoter of hands-on learning, his passion for outreach and science literacy encouraged both his students and colleagues to share the world of chemistry with others. He performs at annual science shows at St. Albert elementary schools and appears monthly on Global TV Morning News Edmonton to host science demonstrations. One year, Ng even had his students deliver more than 17,000 compact fluorescent bulbs to city households. He continues to volunteer for APEGA Outreach, the Alberta Science Network and Let’s Talk Science Outreach at U of A.
Ng will receive his award at the Edmonton CIC Local Section Annual General Meeting on May 2. For more details or to apply for the 2017 award, go to www.cheminst.ca/awards/cic-awards.