Who is Darren Ng?
Award-winning science teacher at New Westminster Secondary School
Why is he in the news?
Ng just won the inaugural Gordon Gore Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching. The award is presented by the B.C. Association of Physics Teachers in memory of Dr. Gordon Gore, a well-known longtime science teacher from Kamloops who passed away last year.
What’s on his resumé?
In a write-up he provided to the B.C. Association of Physics Teachers, Ng outlined a past life that has included programming recreational activities for inner-city youth, guiding wilderness expeditions with youth at risk, helping to build a vocational school in Rwanda, biking across Canada promoting Canadian heritage, leading youth science programs on international cruise ships and teaching ESL to students in South Korea.
He also has a degree in natural science, an honours degree in outdoor leadership, a teaching degree and post-graduate studies in inclusive education to his name.
Ng previously worked for the Langley and Burnaby school districts. He has been with the New Westminster school district for three years, teaching a wide variety of junior-level science courses at NWSS, as well as some senior courses.
He and his wife, Namsu, are also raising three children, aged five, seven and nine.
“These adventures have given me many stories to tell: stories about determination and success; stories about failure and loss; stories about discovering oneself and the joy that comes from serving others. These stories have an amazing power to instantly transform a lesson from ‘blah’ to ‘YEAH!’ and, more importantly, inspire students to share stories of their own,” Ng said in the write-up.
Why did he win the award?
The B.C. Association of Physics Teachers notes on its website: “The many letters in support of Darren’s nomination mention his love of science, his sense of humour, the energy he brings to his teaching, and his generosity to and support of students, colleagues and community.”
New Westminster school board chair Gurveen Dhaliwal, who presented Ng with his award in virtual fashion at the online board meeting June 22, said Ng has joined the district with a “bang” – pun intended.
“That feels appropriate given the range of innovative, exciting and sometimes a little explosive experiments he uses to engage his students in teaching and learning,” she said. “He has a passion and excitement for his work that is said to be contagious, as he employs what he calls ‘exhibition learning.’”
Or, as Ng himself puts it: “If it can pop, ooze, zap, explode or bounce, chances are you will find it in one of my science lessons.”
Dhaliwal pointed out that even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t slow him down; when students were sent home to learn remotely in 2020, Ng created a full-on TV studio in the basement of his house so he could continue to “wow and inspire” students, even at a distance.
Ng has taken his love of teaching science to any number of settings, from his son’s Grade 1 class to the neighbourhood block party. Whatever the situation, he says his educational goal is always the same: to encourage students to become excited about their learning.
“Whether it is through launching chemistry rockets to explore combustion reactions or making dry ice bubbles to unpack the ideas behind the kinetic molecular theory, to me, effective science instruction always involves far more than reviewing abstract concepts in a textbook,” he said. “My mission with every science lesson is to create hands-on opportunities for students to personally interact with the science that governs their world, in creative ways that are individualized to how they learn best.”
How does he feel about the win?
Ng said he is “truly humbled” to receive the award in the light of Gore’s inspirational and lengthy teaching career.
“Gordon’s tremendous legacy of teaching excellence has left giant footsteps for myself, and all of us, to follow,” he said. “That being said, I am eager to honour his memory with my teaching in my own small way, one big explosion at a time!”
People You Should Know is a new feature planned to regularly showcase notable folks in New Westminster (or with ties to the New West community).
Do you know someone who deserves a mention – an artist you love, a sports star, a community volunteer, an unsung hero, a student achiever, an award winner, a person who just plain makes the world a better place?