Fukushima Power Plant meltdown inspires career change

Paul Andoniadis
Paul Andoniadis

The 2011 Japanese tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Power Plant meltdown destroyed many lives but for one Gold Coast man it was a turning point in his career.

Griffith University education student Paul Andoniadis was teaching English in a school not far from the Fukushima Power Plant when the tsunami struck.

“Although without power we were on higher ground so were safe. Others weren’t so lucky,’’ he recalls.

But the long-term effects of radiation from Fukushima got him thinking about science as never before.

After working as an English language teacher in Japanfor more than seven years he returned to Australia with his wife and young son, and enrolled in a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Griffith University.

“The effects of the earthquake and tsunami and the ongoing ramifications of the Fukushima Power Plant meltdown inspired my desire to learn about science because eventually I would like to be able to help the community there,’’ he said.

Paul is one of 18 Griffith University students awarded an Education Queensland STEM Teaching Scholarship which support university graduates transitioning to a career as a Science, Mathematics, and Industrial Technology and Design teachers in Queensland secondary state schools.

The scholarship means he will teach chemistry in a high-priority Queensland schools over the next three years.

“Being awarded the scholarship is a fantastic opportunity,’’ he said.

“And STEM is increasingly important for young people as technology develops and we’re learning new ways of doing things. For example, alternative energy sources such as a solar power and other technologies are the way of the future. Today’s young people will be part of that.”

“The entire experience of studying education at Griffith has been great. The teachers gave us a lot and being able to apply that knowledge in a practical way in teaching is fantastic.”

Surprisingly, there are similarities with teaching science to Australian students and English to Japanese students.

“The subject matter may be different but there are always lessons and objectives to achieve and I’ve got to work out the best way for them to learn.”