New job!

by Stephanie Chasteen on August 3, 2007

cutecrop.jpgI have a new job! My postdoc at the Exploratorium ends next week, and I will be taking off for the mountains. I have a fixed term position as Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ll be doing research on physics education — studying how students learn and offering suggestions to restructure their upper division undergraduate courses (quantum and electricity & magnetism). If there are any teachers reading this, I would be really curious to hear what they think of education research and whether it’s helpful at all to them.

It will be quite a change from the buzzing pace of the Exploratorium. I’m very excited about the job — I’ve always found it interesting to understand how people learn and think about things. We usually think that other people learn how we do, by default, but it’s not true. “Metacognition” (or thinking about how we think) has always helped me as a learner — I tend to know what it is that I don’t understand, which helps me ask the right questions. Or, it used to. Before I was a “Dr” I asked much better questions. Now that I feel I’m supposed to know the answers I’m more shy about asking questions, which is a real shame.

I admit to some trepidation in returning to academia. I didn’t enjoy my graduate experiences, but the physics department at Boulder seems very friendly. Still, you walk into the halls of a physics department, and there is still certain quietness. After being near thousands of yelling and wide-eyed children, it will be a change. The other thing that is different about academia is the pace of life. At the Exploratorium, we have to create things that are pretty great, but there are a dozen other things waiting behind it, so we have to do it quickly. In academia, the standards are higher, the products must be much more meticulously polished. Will I have the patience to return to the slower pace after the fast-paced efficiency of the Exploratorium?

So, stay tuned!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin August 4, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Hey Stephanie,

Congratulations! I just dipped into my Exploratorium email account for the first time in a long while because of all the changes in my life (by the way, I did get the job that I called to ask the nanotech question about! I started in late June and I love it!), and I noticed that you were selling a lot of stuff.

It sounds like you have your dream job, too. We definitely need people studying how physics can be taught better, and hopefully changing the culture in positive ways. If anyone can step out of the old way of seeing things and bring fresh ideas to this, you would be it.

I just moved within SF, and I know how busy it is packing, but drop me a line if you have a chance before you go. As for movers for Colorado, I’d advise that you check references on anyone inexpensive–I’ve heard of people who have had a bad experience with a mover essentially holding their stuff for ransom. I used Mayflower when moving from Chicago to SF ten years ago, but then we had relocation paid for. I’d really be wary of going too cheap because of shyster movers, is all I’m saying.

Roger August 21, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Congrats Steph,

I knew it would all work out for you 🙂

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