Using IR cameras to teach life lessons

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Craig Beaulieu, Stoughton High School, Stoughton MA

Craig Beaulieu has set a goal for this school year: to wear a different tie dye shirt every day. He’s on target so far. “As teachers, I feel that we teach in Neverland,” he says. “It is the adults that are getting older while all the children remain in the same age range.” He believes teaching helps him stay young at heart and live a fulfilled life. Wearing colorful shirts to school may help, too.

Teacher Ambassador Craig Beaulieu

Teaching was a natural choice for Craig, who had always loved school and had fond memories of playing school and being “the teacher” growing up. Throughout college, he kept in touch with his high school guidance counselor. When she suggested that Craig should teach science at his alma mater because the school needed science teachers, “it was a no brainer.”

He now teaches a range of classes, including 9th grade Science of Energy, 10-12th grade Forensics Science, and 11-12th grade Advanced Placement Environmental Science. Craig has used the Concord Consortium’s Solarize Your World curriculum, including the Energy3D CAD software and infrared (IR) cameras. He says, “When students used the IR cameras, it unlocked a world that was not readily available to them.”

One 9th grade student concluded: “Looking at other people with the cameras is a great example of how we as humans are more alike. If people judge a book by its cover, the camera shows us we are actually all the same.” Another student chimed in: “The camera shows the life and love we all radiate.” A discussion about thermal images ensued. Craig believes the curriculum materials help students see real-world applications, giving an authentic purpose to the content being learned.

Real-world lessons include not just the use of IR cameras, however. Craig teaches other life lessons, too, like finance. “I spend a class period every year throwing open my finances and discussing student loans,” he explains. He shows his students how much he pays and how it has affected his life choices after college. This leads to conversations with students about both college and technical careers. He says, “I try to get them to understand that our ultimate fate is all the same.” So he advises students to be nice—and to find a career they would enjoy going to day in and out.

Craig is excited by all the educational technology applications available today, but he says that teachers need more time to explore the “endless resources.” He’s grateful that a curriculum director directed him to the Concord Consortium; he has since had the chance to consult on the Solarize Your World project, coauthor an article in the Science Teacher, and present at a conference.

While Craig’s dream vacation is backpacking through Europe, he has had adventures closer to home. He lights up when he says, “The experience of being a foster family has been a life-changing experience for my whole family.”

Favorite ice cream: Mint chocolate chip