From Arizona Daily Sun, December 2013:
For Christopher Hull, teaching science is all about making connections.
Where some teachers might sit back and lecture from a book about atoms and osmosis, Hull takes a different approach. He is a living example of kinetic energy. He talks excitedly, allows students to socialize, wears a crazy bow tie every day and likes to ask his kids about what is going on in their lives. His goal is to make science come alive for every one of his students in a personal way.
“It’s absolutely essential to know your kids,” Hull said. “If you don’t have a rapport with them, in my opinion, you’re missing out on one of the greatest resources a teacher has … If you know a little bit about the interests of those students, then you can say, ‘You’re interested in this? You know what? When we get to physics, you’re going to really enjoy this because this ties into what you’re already interested in, and it will help you enjoy it even more because you’re going to have more understanding of what’s going on.’”
Hull said the key to teaching is passion.
“I think it’s so important to be in the field that you are interested in,” Hull said. “If you just want a teaching job to be a teacher — you don’t really care about English or history or the content area that you’re responsible for — then the kids will pick up on it. They’re not going to be engaged. If you don’t love it, they’re not going to love it.”
Hull said his students learn best when they are tuned in to the fact that science is all around them every day.
“Information is coming in and shaping our understanding of things, and I think that lends itself beautifully to getting kids excited,” Hull said. “It’s like, ‘check it out: today, we found yet another chunk of planets out there. We didn’t find a chunk of nouns. We didn’t find a chunk of adverbs all of a sudden under a rock, we found this organism that we didn’t know existed.’”
Hull tries to help his students get excited by bringing the real-world applications of science into the classroom. His favorite time of the year is when he gets to talk to his students about genetics and heredity.
“It’s a really personal thing for them,” Hull said. “While this is an abstract concept, typically, you’re talking about microscopic phenomena and before now most of them haven’t looked in microscopes, but that connection from cells that we can’t see with our naked eye to, ‘These things affected my physical traits, who I am,’ I think is a really great realization for kids this age and you see a lot of them really get excited about science and all of a sudden start wanting to be some sort of geneticist or biologist.”
Hull loves to see his students get so excited about science. But he said he makes sure to let his students know he does not expect them all to become scientists someday. For Hull, the most important thing he can teach the students is how to ask questions, explore problems and identify solutions.
“I want every kid who comes out of my class to be able to think,” Hull said.
Photo courtesy: Taylor Mahoney / Arizona Daily Sun