Lance Powell, a Menlo-Atherton High School science teacher, was recently recognized as an outstanding teacher by the California League of High Schools and will represent the Bay Area in the running for educator of the year.
How did you become interested in being a science teacher? I stumbled into this company called Science Adventures, and basically what that job consisted of is doing hands-on science projects with elementary school kids.
How do you get kids interested in science? One of the things I’m most proud of is I’ve developed an environmental chemistry course. We hit all the chemistry standards but we’re doing it through the lens of the environment. … We’re not just studying random things out of the textbook; we’re collecting samples from their homes. … We can do pretty much every chemistry standard, like thermodynamics and bonding, and things that are really abstract we can link to environmental issues.
What is your favorite topic to teach? Environmental chemistry is kind of my baby now. I’m working on curriculum, a book, and because it has met the UC requirements, this is a course I’d really like to see go throughout the state of California.