Name: Eric Botello
Role: Instructor – Physics Honors; AP Physics C, Head Coach – FIRST® FTC® Teams #10632 and #12115, Lead Mentor – JECA Engineering Club, Mentor – UIL Science (Physics)
School: Judson Early College Academy/Judson ISD
Located: Live Oak, TX
Number years teaching: 4
What do you teach and what grade?
I teach 10th- and 11th-Grade Honors Physics and AP Physics C to 11th and 12th graders.
Why do you like what you teach?
First of all, I love physics; I see it as the physical manifestation of mathematics. I love opening the students’ eyes to the physics all around them, but my goal every year is getting to quantum mechanics and sharing with them the subject that made me want to study physics.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
I wanted to be a college professor, but then I discovered all the extra responsibilities of a professor like running a research lab and writing grants. I just wanted to teach physics, so I transitioned to high school. Funny thing, I am now writing grants for my classroom/clubs and the time and energy I put into the robotics and engineering club are like my research lab.
Why do you like to teach with hands-on products?
Hands on is the only way to teach physics; you can talk about topics until you’re blue in the face, but nothing will teach a concept like getting your hands dirty. For instance, current, power, and resistance are just variables to manipulate in an equation until you watch light bulbs brighten and fade depending on how you configure wires.
How does using hands-on products improve the students’ learning experiences?
Engagement is the key; in physics, sometimes you have to show students how to solve a problem mathematically (to me this is fun but not always to the student). However, every student loves getting their hands on materials and playing with them; the key is to take it from just playing with an object and actually learning something.
How long have you been using Pitsco Education products?
I have used Pitsco products all four years of my teaching career.
What is your favorite Pitsco Education product and why?
My favorite Pitsco Education Product is the TETRIX® MAX Robotics Kit. I have been a part of FIRST FTC for the last two years and I have found that students have learned more about topics like forces, torque, and circuits building the robots than I could have ever shown them in class or out of a book. I love when a student says “Hey, we learned this in class!”
How do the students respond to Pitsco Education products?
Students love the products. The products I have used in class always convey the topics I want to teach. The robotic parts are robust and versatile enough to fulfill all our building needs.
What’s your greatest teaching accomplishment?
My overall goal every year is to help every student realize his or her full potential. My greatest accomplishment is changing the mindset of a particular student who was smart enough to be whatever he wanted, but his work ethic was lacking. I motivated this student to be amazing by challenging him more than he had ever been challenged in high school to that point. This drive all started with him failing a test in my class; my comment was what shook him. I told him with the effort that he was putting into the class, he deserved to fail. He had never failed let alone been told that he deserved to fail before. From that moment on, he tried on every assignment and examination; he is now two semesters from graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering, has a job lined up after graduation, and has already created an app that is making his future employer tons of money.
Learn about other Pitsco Teacher of the Month recipients at www.pitsco.com/teacherofthemonth.