AACT Member Spotlight: Robin DeClercq
By AACT on October 5, 2022
Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Robin DeClercq. She teaches chemistry and physical science at Austin High School in Austin, MN.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a nerdy science teacher living in Austin, MN who teaches Physical Science and Everyday Chemistry. I am in my third year of teaching at Austin High School where I teach 9th–12th graders. I am a proud participant of “Nerdy T-Shirt Friday” on Twitter and am often seen wearing a colorful periodic table lanyard. In the summers, I work for an incredible non-profit organization called Project Scientist, which delivers hands-on STEM experiences to girls aged 4–12 around the nation. When I am not teaching science, I enjoy traveling, reading, or spending quality time with my pets and my partner. My favorite chemist duo is Marie and Irene Curie because they were two passionate chemists like my mom (who also teaches chemistry) and me.
Share a story from your past that led to your choosing your field of work.
When I was around five years old, my mom sat me down and taught me about the atom. Soon after, I was playing outside and saw a group of gnat bugs (or “no-see-um” bugs as some people call them). Immediately, I thought these small, round, hard-to-see spheres were atoms! I was so excited to think could see these atoms with the naked eye! As a kid, I grew up loving science, which I attribute to the experiences I had with my mom growing up. I got to shadow her through her teaching and science outreach, which really got me interested in teaching. Not only did I love chemistry, but I loved the ability to explain a topic to someone in a unique way until they reached understanding. Now, I am lucky to teach and learn alongside students every day!
What fuels your passion for science and teaching?
The students that I get to work with and grow with on a daily basis fuel my passion for science and teaching! I firmly believe that science is FOR everyone because it is DONE by everyone, and getting to share that experience daily is really exciting. One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing a personal connection that a student has to the material and hearing their personal interpretations of the skill or objective. Often, I get the chance to learn new things from my student this way, and it is very exciting!
What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?
The biggest way that I remain current and bring the latest science into my classroom is through the large network of amazing science teachers that I follow on Twitter. It is so powerful to have such a growing and compassionate community of educators that are all striving to offer quality education and experiences to students. It is typically through these educators that I share and observe ideas, news, activities, labs, and demonstrations that are relevant to my students' lives. Additionally, I try and keep up on social media and introduce chemistry through the lens of interesting topics that are “trending.”
In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?
Always ask questions!