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Redlands teacher guides students’ out-of-this-world experiments – Redlands Daily Facts

Paul DeVoe’s physics classes are about more than monitoring quasars with a radio telescope, determining trajectories and solving equations. In the middle of a pandemic it’s also important to the Redlands High School teacher that his students have hope and learn how to think for themselves.

On Jan. 24, DeVoe was one of eight nominees from Corona to Blythe at the California League of High Schools District 10 Educator of the Year ceremony, held virtually due to coronavirus precautions.

Redlands High School physics teacher Paul DeVoe (Photo courtesy of the Redlands Unified School District)

He didn’t take home the title, which went to Keith Brockie, an art teacher at Arroyo Valley High in San Bernardino, but DeVoe was the only educator of the group to mention having students send experiments to the International Space Station.

DeVoe, who has been teaching for more than three decades, told attendees about his favorite parts of teaching, starting with “the joy of seeing the spark of a student understanding something.”

Currently his students are monitoring air quality, taking photos and explaining the physics behind them, programming robots to navigate a maze, making holograms, soldering together radios, building and demonstrating their own musical instruments, and more.

Twice in the past two years his students sent an experiment to the space station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program comparing the effect of zero gravity on lemongrass growth.

Maximilian Floridia, a former student who led the crew working on that experiment, said the most important lesson he learned from his teacher “is how exciting, practical, and collaborative science can be.”

In an emailed statement, he called DeVoe’s class inspiring.

While working on the project, Floridia wrote, DeVoe “approached our research with a strong curiosity that often fostered discussions and made us want to continue experimenting.”

Honors Physics and AP Physics student Kailana Nishiura was also inspired.

“One of the most eye-opening moments for me was when I used mathematical formulas to predict the landing spot of a projectile before it was shot,” Nishiura said in an emailed statement. “I had never done anything like this before, and it was exciting to see how knowledge could be applied directly to real life.”

Ben Otter, class of 2023, said in an emailed statement that he couldn’t remember the last time DeVoe lectured to his students.

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