As a kid, Brandon Kleve liked playing with the chemistry kit he’d received as a Christmas gift.
As an adult, he still gets a kick out of playing with his science “toys.” But now he gets to do it for a living as a ninth-grade science teacher at Johnston Middle School.
“I love physics because we get to use all the ‘toys,’ ” says Kleve, which makes it a fun, interactive experience for students. For one assignment, they design and build parachutes, which they drop from bleachers.
They do a lot of experiments and labs, using cool technology, tools and equipment, Kleve says. That includes iPads and a kind of mini computer that collects data by hooking it up to different probes, such as timers or thermometers. Such devices provide hands-on learning that helps engage students in science, he says.
Kleve’s own interest in science began in childhood, in different areas including chemistry. He reminisces about that kit he received many Christmases ago.
“I just became intrigued with doing the experiments and finding out what the results would be,” Kleve says.
He had a knack for chemistry, liked biology and grew up around farm animals. He also just liked school.
“I really liked going to class and learning about things,” he says.
He eventually took that passion for science and merged it with his fondness for working with kids and being a role model to them to become a teacher.
Part of what influenced his decision was having been a former athlete and looking up to his coaches and teachers, Kleve says. Now he coaches eighth grade basketball and ninth grade baseball.
One of his strengths as a teacher is his ability to convey the content to his students, he says. He does that by trying to connect what they’re doing in class to their everyday lives.
Kleve says he’s also good at building relationships with his students and likes that he’s able to see them grow into adulthood.
“It’s kind of fun to see them become productive citizens and help in the community,” he says.
But the best part of his job, Kleve says, is the lack of monotony — from the uniqueness of each day to the chance to work with new students every year.