Alumnus Adam Mills’ (BSc 2005, B.Ed 2007) passion for educating has won him the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP Physics (Ontario).
“It was an honour to receive such a prestigious award and be recognized for my teaching,” he says.
The Assumption College Catholic High School teacher graduated from the physics and high technology program before going on to complete a Bachelor of Education.
“Because of Science at UWindsor I had many opportunities while completing my degree,” says Mills.
“Due to the Outstanding Scholars program, I was able to work within a laboratory in the physics department starting in my first year, which opened my eyes to how much different ‘real’ science is compared to ‘textbook’ science.”
He says his undergraduate experience inspired him to pursue masters studies, which gave him the chance to be a teaching assistant and run tutorials.
“This was my first experience with teaching, and I absolutely loved it. I immediately decided to obtain my Bachelor of Education.”
Mills mentors other physics teachers through his work with the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers and mentors trainee teachers as an associate teacher with UWindsor’s Faculty of Education.
Among other subjects, Mills teaches International Baccalaureate physics. He says teaching physics allows him to discuss with the students all the tricks of nature and the joy of learning and investigating these tricks through experimentation.
“We cannot have a conversation with the universe, but we can get it to answer our questions by performing experiments and observing the results,” he says. “Many of my students get motivated by my overwhelming passion, excitement, and positive attitude. I think over the course of the semester this passion just begins to rub off on them.”
Mills is a strong proponent of showing his students STEM beyond the classroom by participating in competitions like Science Olympiads, engineering design, Canadian Youth Physics tournaments, sports (like curling), field trips, and having guest speakers from industry.
Physics department head, Steven Rehse, says Mills is nationally recognized as an exceptional teacher of physics and is very deserving of the CAP award.
“As an alumnus of the UWindsor physics department, he serves as an ambassador for the quality of physics education that one receives here,” says Dr. Rehse.
“Along with having a deep understanding and passion for physics, Adam is also an excellent communicator of that passion to younger students in the classroom. He is also devoted to investigating new and more effective teaching pedagogies that have been proven to be effective through years of Physics Education Research.”
Mills’ passion for teaching earned him a University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award in 2016.
“I have always strived to do ‘one new thing’ suggested by physics education research to make my teaching better each semester and this process has been transformative to my teaching pedagogy over the last 16 years,” he says.
“Being the recipient of this CAP Award is a testament that small, meaningful steps done well over a long period of time can yield great results.”