Whether it’s making s’mores with Bunsen burners, hot air balloon projects for gas laws, or teaching the colligative property of freezing-point lowering by turning milk and cream into ice cream, Upper School Chemistry Teacher Kenny Hoang’s engaging lessons inimitably resonate with his students. Recently, the Texas Biomedical Forum and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation recognized Mr. Hoang for his innovative teaching with the Science Education Award.
Mr. Hoang was awarded $2,000 for the submission of his project, Environmental Chemistry and the Sustainability of Aquaponic Systems as a Viable Alternative/Solution to World Hunger and Earth Sustainability. Aquaponics serves as a viable alternative to grow both animals and plants for food in a sustainable way, while also decreasing humans’ carbon footprint in an effort to prevent the depletion of Earth’s natural resources. The method uses less space and resources, produces crops faster and at higher yields, and eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers and additives by utilizing the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants.
The project will take place during the 2021-2022 academic year in SMH Chemistry I classes. This cross-curricular initiative involves research where students study how aquaponics works and observe its benefits and effects firsthand. Students will compare aquaponics to traditional methods of planting and farming, and will research and choose their own fish, herbs, and vegetables to use in the project. The students will also house and grow zebra fish for the labs that AP Biology conducts and cover topics in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and more.
“As humans continue to search for alternatives to feed people, while also sustaining Earth’s natural resources for future generations, I hope this project/experiment will give my students the opportunity to see applicable, cross-curricular science in action to solve world problems while also opening their minds to the opportunities to better the place they live in, Earth,” said Mr. Hoang. “My hope is that this will prompt conversations in the near future and that it empowers students to be a part of this important dialogue as intelligent, knowledgeable citizens of this country and as champions and defenders of the Earth.”
The Texas Biomedical Forum and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation jointly award up to $20,000 to the applicants that demonstrate the strongest commitment to further the development of innovative and progressive science education programs. The goal is to assist science programs in the purchase of teaching materials. Both local public and private high school teachers participate. Science Education Awards are given to the top teachers whose proposals demonstrate the strongest commitment to the scientific process and the further development of hands-on, progressive science education programs.
Mr. Hoang incorporates unique and fun ways to engage his students. As a result, he has many achievements, including earning the UTD Melton Fund Grant, First Year Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year Finalist, and serving as a presenter at the 2016 UTeach conference. Overall, as a teacher, he said he derives his greatest fulfillment and sense of accomplishment from the growth and accomplishments of his students.
Pictured above (l-r): Lindsay Bolner, Texas Biomedical Forum Board of Trustees member and Science Education Awards chair; Huy (Kenny) Hoang, SMH Upper School Chemistry teacher; and Kate Rogers, Texas Biomedical Forum Science Education Awards co-chair. Photos courtesy of Super Q Photography.
Kenny Hoang currently teaches chemistry at Saint Mary’s Hall. He grew up in Dallas, Texas and taught high school chemistry there. Mr. Hoang earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas and his Master of Arts from University of Texas at Dallas.