Turning on students’ lightbulbs
Physics teacher uses a variety of means to engage students
To Eric Botello, physics is fun. “I love physics,” he admits. “I see it as the physical manifestation of mathematics.”
Botello realizes, however, that statement doesn’t apply to most people. High school students, in particular, might have a difficult time grasping the “fun” in physics. That challenge is why Botello loves his job as the honors and AP physics teacher at Judson Early College Academy in Live Oak, Texas.
“I love opening the students’ eyes to the physics all around them,” said Botello, Pitsco Education’s March 2017 Teacher of the Month.
To do that, he employs a variety of hands-on activities. “You can talk about topics until you’re blue in the face,” he said, “but nothing will teach a concept like getting your hands dirty. For instance, current, power, and resistance are just variables to manipulate in an equation until you watch lightbulbs brighten and fade depending on how you configure wires. . . . Engagement is the key in physics.”
One great source of engagement, according to Botello, is robotics. More specifically, the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) teams he coaches using Pitsco’s TETRIX® MAX Robotics System. “I have been a part of FIRST FTC for the last two years and I have found that students have learned more about topics like forces, torque, and circuits building the robots than I could have ever shown them in class or out of a book. I love when a student says, ‘Hey, we learned this in class!’”
But getting students excited about learning is just one of Botello’s goals. “My overall goal every year,” he said, “is to help every student realize his or her full potential.” Some students, however, take a little more prodding than others. Botello recalled one student in particular who found school a bit too easy.
“I motivated this student to be amazing by challenging him more than he had ever been challenged in high school to that point,” said Botello. “This drive all started with him failing a test in my class. . . . I told him with the effort that he was putting into the class, he deserved to fail. He had never failed, let alone been told that he deserved to fail before. From that moment on, he tried on every assignment and examination. He is now two semesters from graduating with a degree in computer engineering, has a job lined up after graduation, and has already created an app. . . .”
Eric Botello, thank you for turning on the potential of every student you encounter. Congratulations on being named Pitsco’s March 2017 Teacher of the Month.
Read about our other Teacher of the Month recipients at Pitsco.com/TeacheroftheMonth.