New Zealand teacher Chris Clay has been recognised for his innovative teaching skills in a global competition for educators.

Clay, who is head of Science Learning at Auckland's Botany Downs Secondary College, won the Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom category at the 2011 Global Forum Educator Awards.

"It's a massive testament to what kids can do if you give them the opportunity," said Clay after the award ceremony held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, in Washington.

His project, "Linking Educational Accomplishments to Real-World Needs", created an online community connecting 140 teachers and students across New Zealand to tackle real-world biological challenges.


That included having students analyse DNA results sent to them from scientists working on an endangered bird species breeding programme.

Clay was among 18 award recipients in six categories selected from 115 projects, narrowed from more than 200,000 applicants, who competed at national and regional events over the course of the year to qualify for the worldwide competition.

The awards are part of the annual Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum which this year attracted 700 educators from 70 countries.

See more about the awards here.