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RHS chemistry teacher relates science to real life

Explains to students how science is 'everywhere'
By: Michael Althouse
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Rocklin High School Chemistry Teacher Trina Lee not only teaches her students the concepts of chemistry, she also shows her students how it applies in everyday life. “A lot of people see science as an abstract concept, but it’s everywhere,” she said. “I try to show the kids that.’ Prior to becoming a high school chemistry teacher, Lee was working as a research biologist. “It was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t something I saw as worthwhile. “I wanted to do something I could be proud of,” Lee said. Now in her fifth year of teaching, Lee says she can’t think of a better place to work. “This is an amazing school to work with. In this district, excellence is expected,” she said. “It’s what makes this district so great. “I was originally attracted (to Rocklin High School) because of the job. I wanted to teach AP (advanced placement) and regular chemistry and Rocklin offered that,” she said. Because of her prior experience, Lee is also the school’s chemical safety officer. Lee recently applied for and won a $10,000 grant from Toyota to implement a proposal she wrote for a procedure to explain why the level of ozone pollution is so high in Rocklin. All of Rocklin High School’s chemistry students will carry out the procedure during the next school year, Lee said. The funding is already coming in and the equipment needed, which the school gets to keep after the experiment has concluded, is being purchased. “One of the things I wanted to bring to the classroom was critical thinking and real life problems. I wanted to give the kids a question that there is no answer to,” she said. In the classroom, Lee says the students enjoy the “flashy stuff” the most. “They like stuff that blows up,” she said. “Some kids find it a bit more difficult when it comes to abstract concepts.” Rocklin High School Principal Mike Garrison said Lee is one of many outstanding teachers at Rocklin High. “Our teachers go to any lengths to support our students,” he said. “Trina represents our teachers in general.” Sophomore Heidi Siler calls Lee “a really good teacher.” “She’s really out-going and connects with us,” she said. Luke Gamboa, a junior, says he loves science. Although he didn’t know anything about Lee prior to enrolling in her class, he now names her as “one of my favorite teachers.” “She makes it really easy to relate science to everyday life,” he said. “I like everything she does in this class.”