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Science and Mathematics Education

College of the Sciences
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Discovery Hall 301
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Phone: 509-963-2929

Featured Alumni

Our alumni do great things every day, and we want to celebrate that.  Read our interviews with our amazing featured alumni below.  If you would like to be featured, please contact

Winter 2015

April Barreca, Science Teacher, Curlew School, Curlew, WA

April has been a science teacher for three years and at her current school since 2014.  April enjoys spending time with her son outside, hiking, canoeing, and gardening. She did her Master's research on frogs, so she is always trying to figure out what amphibians are doing in her neighborhood. Here are her thoughts on science teaching:

What do you enjoy most about teaching science?

The best part about science is that you get to do it.  Students are more engaged because we are working on different labs and activities all the time.  I try very hard to get my students outside doing research and to make science relevant and interesting.  I love when students are curious and we explore new ideas together.  Just recently my students built a Ruben’s tube that shows sound waves in flame.  They were super excited, I was amazed, and everyone learned together.  If I can empower students to answer their own questions and get involved in their own learning, I feel like I am doing my job.

What advise would you give to a student who is thinking about becoming a science teacher?

Do it if you are a flexible person who loves science, kids and working hard to make the world a better place.  Get your Master’s degree in science, not education.  When I tell my students about my experience as a scientist and about my research, it gets their attention and it builds trust in my message.  BUT, teaching is not easy.  Classroom management can be a real struggle, grading takes forever, there are a lot of things you will have to do that are not just lesson planning, you will never feel caught up on your work, and no matter how great you are as a person and how much time you put into your job, you will not be good at it right away.

What did you enjoy about studying science education at CWU?

I feel that the CWU science education program gave me a great start towards being a science teacher.  Actually doing science is the best way to learn.  I use labs that I did as a student all the time as a teacher.  I also felt supported by all the science education professors and that I could write them today and ask them for lesson ideas or suggestions and they would be very willing to help.


Fall 2014

Kegan Powers, Science Teacher, Toppenish High School

Kegan is a 2013 CWU graduate in physics and math education.  He has been a science teacher at Toppenish High School since graduation.  Before graduating college, he tutored, worked as a teacher's assistant, and mentored college and high school kids in science and math.  Here are his thoughts on science teaching:

What do you enjoy most about teaching science?

I think the experience I most enjoy, and there are many experiences to choose from, is opening students' minds to the possibilities and complexities of the universe.  There is an amazing moment that occurs quite frequently in science when a student is able to connect a scientific idea or principle to a real life situation. It is an indescribable feeling to see that change happen for a student.

What advise would you give to a student who is thinking about becoming a science teacher?

You have to live the passion you expect of your students. Any teacher can give the same boring lecture year after year and slowly lose connection with the students. If you want to inspire students and experience their true potential with them, you have to become the inspiration. This is easier said than done, but I know that you became interested in science for a reason; something at one point in time caught your attention and held it. We, as educators, have the responsibility to give our students that exact same opportunity. The excitement and curiosity of students stems directly from your ability to sell them on the wonder that is science. To put it as simply as I can I would say, if you feel the magic, so will they.

What knowledge, skill, interview behavior, etc. do you think played an important role in you getting the teaching job at your current school?

A huge contributor to me getting hired at Toppenish was that I did my student teaching here. Getting your foot or name in the door can often be the hardest part. Aside from that, I feel that my level of professionalism and relatability gave me a huge advantage.


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