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Kean Roberts
April 24, 2023

AHS Science Teacher Earns Excellence In Education Award

Kean Roberts, a first-year ninth-grade Earth and Space Science teacher at Ames High School was awarded the “Excellence in Education” award from the Iowa Academy of Science. Roberts expressed his gratitude for the recognition, stating, “On one hand, I feel personally validated with my instruction and the experiences that I’m getting students to engage in, but on the other hand, I have to acknowledge all of the other teachers that came before me and have worked with me to help me reach this level.”

Surprisingly, Roberts never wanted to be a teacher growing up. He shared that all his AHS teachers inspired him to stay in STEM fields. However, the late Dan Flannery, his swimming coach from 2008-2012, saw the impact Roberts could have on students and suggested he try swimming lessons. Roberts never knew he could be a teacher until later when he struggled to find his college path. His dad advised him to take a semester off. After asking his parents and mentors for guidance, he decided to try teaching.

He advises future teachers to be open to change and reflection, especially with the rapid changes in digital technology affecting teaching methods. Roberts adds that life has many branching pathways, and trying your best can keep doors open that you might not have even known were there in the first place.

Roberts’ favorite unit to teach is the watershed unit. In November 2022, he and Mr. Reichart held an exhibition for the ninth graders where they had an opportunity to teach the public about “What’s in your watershed?” He finds that it directly connects students’ lives and current conservation efforts in Iowa. 

“During this unit, I don’t feel like a teacher but a guide. I feel like I am working alongside students to solve real-world problems and learn new concepts with them rather than teaching them mandated curriculum. The best part of the unit is the skills that students develop along the way and the extent to which students feel like scientists!”

Currently, students are working to reduce their carbon footprint however they can. Additionally, they are tasked to take real-life action.

“Students have been tasked to calculate their carbon footprint and then they have to reduce it,” Roberts said. “They can do it by composting, they can reduce their shower time, and a million other things. They are working in groups and figuring out how to reduce it and take that action. That’s something the watershed unit was lacking, instead of making recommendations to the public, we are now actually doing something about it.”

Roberts expressed his gratitude to his colleagues, administrators, and coaches that he’s had the privilege to work with, saying, “Like science, teachers stand on the shoulders of giants.” He also thanked his fiancée and parents for their unwavering support throughout his teaching career. Lastly, he thanked Dan Flannery for inspiring him and many others to be the best they could be and for always being able to see what they could not.

Congratulations to Kean Roberts for his well-deserved recognition and for inspiring his students as civically engaged people in the Ames community.