Mary Ann Hopple
Mary Ann Hopple
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Mary Ann Hopple, a seventh grade science teacher at Athens Middle School, was inspired by her third grade teacher, Mrs. Wigton, to become one herself. Hopple believes that teachers must have a sense of humor, be organized and have the ability to empathize with the students in order to be successful. “Mrs. Wigton really helped me as a student, and I wanted to do the same for others,” says Hopple.
Mrs. Hopple said that there was more emphasis on “books, lessons and questions at the end of the chapter” when she first started teaching. Today, that emphasis has changed to hands-on learning, inquiry, experimentation and discovery learning. This change, however, has been a very positive shift for science education, at least in Hopple’s opinion. Hands-on learning engages students more and challenges them to rethink what they may believe about science rather than what the science facts indicate. Mrs. Hopple believes that this engagement increases the possibility that students will continue to study science in high school and later in college. “It is the questions and questioning of what we know about the world that really hooks students to study science,” says Hopple. Obviously, her passion for science rubs off on her students.
Games and virtual simulations will have an impact on the future of education because many students are avidly participating in such activities in their free time. Virtual simulations can provide students with environments of study that can’t be provided by the school. Mrs. Hopple believes virtual labs are beneficial as a teaching method because they are hands-on activities that involve no messes and no clean-up. Furthermore, they allow students to handle complex science problems in a technological medium that isn’t foreign to them. “Games combined with good teaching can help to move all students forward in the study of science,” says Hopple.
It doesn’t take rocket scientist to see that students learn best when they have fun, and Mrs. Hopple tries her hardest to make her classroom a fun and educational environment through the use of STEAM’s latest educational programs.