Hawaii's Top Teachers
Saturday, August 24, 1996

Name: Bertha Tomiyasu
Age: 33
Position: Chemistry teacher
Education: Boston University
Pastimes: Movies, exercise

Making science real for kids

Bertha Tomiyasu takes a fair share of her personal experience into the classroom.

From her summer trip to Alaska, she brought back the concept of glaciers for her lesson plan. And after her completion of a wastewater project at BHP Hawaii, her students took a field trip to the refinery.

"Anything she can do to make science real - take it into their back yard, their realm of understanding - she tries and does it," says colleague Pamela Fujinaka. "She's very good at that."

Tomiyasu has been teaching chemistry for nine years at Iolani School and loves it. "I enjoy working with the students, and I felt that I had something to give to the community this way and hopefully teach the students chemistry as well."

Tomiyasu and math teacher Michael Park recently received a GTE Growth Initiatives for Teachers grant.

Using the grant, she will teach "Chemistry in the Community," a course combined with math and technology. The students will conduct activities using graphing calculators, calculator-based labs, and temperature, pressure and gas probes.

Tomiyasu is "a master at the art of gentle persuasion" when working with students, Fujinaka says.

Tomiyasu has "outstanding math skills, a chemical background and gentle personality," Fujinaka says. "It's everything all wrapped up in one."

Jenny Tom, Star-Bulletin

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