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Local teacher awarded five-day trip to NASA Alabama

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – February 22: 2018 ASG NEITA Awards February 22, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/

It’s ok to fail.

“I failed four consecutive years at university till I got my act together in 2005,” says award-winning teacher Subash Chandar K, curriculum leader of Mathematics and Statistics at Ormiston Senior College who won top honours at this year’s ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA).

He is the only New Zealander in 22 years to win a trip to the US Space and Rocket Centre in Alabama, USA.

The young maths teacher was recently awarded the ASG Space Camp Teacher Ambassador of the Year Award at a ceremony hosted by Minster for Education Chris Hipkins at Parliament.

“When students tell me they feel bad because they failed a maths assessment, I often share my story of how I dropped out of an engineering degree. I didn’t know how to manage my time or money when my parents moved to Australia in 2001.

“I took up education in maths and failed in it as well. People told me to give up studying but I persevered. And then one day I took responsibility for myself and stopped blaming others,” he admits.

“I’ve always encouraged students to keep going no matter how hard it gets. Perseverance is the answer.”

The maths teacher known for hosting Ormiston Maths Day for teachers to share innovative ways on making maths more fun says he is looking forward to basic astronaut training in the US.

“I will be one of the five teachers from all over the world who will be running a simulation on landing a space shuttle,” he says.

The former winner of the inaugural Margaret & Kalman Mathematics Teaching Prize and the Jim Campbell Award for Teaching Excellence says that while at NASA in July, he will be thinking of what experience he can bring back to students in New Zealand.

“I’d like to pave the way for the first astronaut from New Zealand. I will find out if they accept scholarship kids and how we can go about setting up a pathway for our students to go to NASA–then come back and contribute to our very own Rocket Lab in New Zealand.”

Selected from more than 200 nominations for his inspiring and innovative contribution to teaching, the maths teacher who has a large following on his YouTube Maths tutorial channel gives credit to the college and his colleagues for allowing him to think outside the box.

In three weeks, Chandar K will be flying to Paris for Microsoft-based conference to be attended by 350 teachers globally. He has been invited to be on the panel.

While the young teacher is thrilled to receive the award, he admits he was earlier scheduled in July to attend the ISTE conference in Philadelphia which he had to cancel to go to Space Camp.  Chandar K was to conduct a workshop on using robots/spheres to engage students in maths. An area the Sphero Hero is passionate about.

“It allows students to use Pythagoras and trigonometry in real life context.”

Chandar K says that the real need of the hour is to encourage and retain maths teachers despite pressures of the profession—a challenge he has taken up.


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