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Teacher lauded for bringing science back to preparatory classrooms


A zoologist-turned-primary teacher who worked to bring real science experiments back into the classroom has received one of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Dr. Matthew McCloskey is the director of studies at Sydney Grammar’s Edgecliff Preparatory School. Through his efforts, students in kindergarten through Year Six are taught hands-on science at least once a week.

McCloskey, who earned his zoology degree at University of Sydney, has been at Edgecliff for 13 years. He was among five winners of the prime minister science awards, which were announced Nov. 17. McCloskey received $50,000.

The other honorees were:

Dr. John Shine

Shine, director of the Garvan Institute in Sydney, received the $300,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his  discoveries of key gene sequences that led to cloned medicines, and for his research leadership.

Dr. Katherine Trinajstic

Trinajstic received the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. The Perth palaeontologist from Curtin University is rewriting the story of the evolution and contributing to oil and gas exploration.

Dr. Benjamin Kile

Kile, who hails from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, received the $50,000 Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. His discoveries are expected to extend the life of blood transfusion products and help explain how cancer starts.

Ms Debra Smith

Smith, head of science at Centenary High School in western Brisbane, received the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for inspiring thousands of students and helping to redefine the senior science curriculum in Queensland and across Australia.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are a national tribute to excellent and dedicated work in Australian science and science teaching. Each comprises a cash component, a medallion and a lapel pin of the nature of those worn by recipients of Australian Honours such as the AO.

The major Prize, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, is awarded for an outstanding specific achievement or series of related achievements in any area of science advancing human welfare or benefiting society, and has been awarded previously to such luminaries of Australian science as Frank Fenner, Donald Metcalf, Jacques Miller, Ian Frazer and Graeme Clark and John O’Sullivan.