A passion for Science and Science Fiction


Angel Abraham-Rodriguez

Showing off his Star Wars Shirt. Steve Davala has a passion for his students, Chemistry and science fiction.

Unlike other classrooms that are interchangeably dull, cold and boring, science teacher Steve Davala, has a classroom that stands out. Posters of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and other franchise trinkets scattered around the room light up the room creating a refreshing atmosphere. When asked if he was influenced by the movie franchise Star Wars and other science fiction series, Davala glanced at his classroom. “What do you think?” He says with a laugh.

Davala is the conceptual chemistry and chemistry teacher at the high school. It’s hard to find teachers who have as much passion and enthusiasm for their work as Davala has for his. “I love chemistry because it’s a mathematical analysis of science,” Davala said. “Plus you get to blow stuff up.”

His love for chemistry started when he taught science in middle school for 14 years. In that time, Davala taught lots of chemistry and it quickly became his favorite science subject to teach. “I like chemistry because everything fits together.” Davala said. He went on to teach high school students chemistry and conceptual chemistry in 3 years ago.

When Davala was four and a half years old, he saw the first Star Wars movie, and it changed everything. It made a huge impact on him, and everything he did from then on was writing stories and drawing pictures of the science fiction world of Star Wars. Its influence carried on throughout his life and Davala love for chemistry and science fiction go hand in hand, describing himself as a, “big fat nerd.” Davala uses it for his students today, even creating a student-favorite Star Wars Club at school.

Not only is Davala’s classroom different than others, but as is his teaching style. To Davala, it’s not just the subject he’s passionate about, but the students as well. His favorite part of teaching is connecting with his students and it shows. Students feel welcome everytime they step into his classroom and are greeted enthusiastically, a major change from the usual dread of class.

Often starting up conversations with his students, Davala talks to them to check in on them or chat. “My favorite part of teaching is seeing kids learn, but also learning what they like to do outside of school,” Davala said. “Teaching is all about connections.”

When Davala attended education school in 1999 at the University of Oregon, he recalled a teaching supervisor’s advice: “He said to try and make a meaningful connection with someone everyday,” Davala said. “So I thought, ‘yeah, I like that.’” The advice resonated with Davala, and carried into his teaching ethic that his students know today.

Davala can quickly recall his proudest moment as a teacher. It wasn’t something someone would typically remember as significant, but simply when a student told Davala he makes him feel smart. This kind of memory shows how much Davala cares not just his students’ academic success, but the impact he makes on them as well.