Envisioning & Implementing Effective Educational Programs

by Stephanie Chasteen on April 28, 2013

headcrop2A very nice article about me was just published in the Spring issue of the Newsletter of the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.  I think it’s a nice summary of what I’ve been focusing on in my career, and my philosophies of finding one’s path, so I am posting it here.

Here is the original article (PDF), and the full Spring issue (PDF).

Envisioning & Implementing Effective Educational Programs

Specialization is useful in many careers, but in Stephanie Chasteen’s case, diversification has played a key role. Dr. Chasteen works as a consultant and contractor on various projects aimed at improving science education through research, evaluation, writing, and creating educational activities.

While a physics graduate student at the University of California – Santa Cruz, Chasteen started considering a career in science journalism and was awarded a prestigious fellowship with the AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows program. She was placed at the science desk at National Public Radio in Washington, DC, and here, Dr. Chasteen notes she “learned the high standards of excellence of national science reporting and developed a deep love for audio production.”

Upon graduation, Chasteen diversified her portfolio even more and took a departure from traditional science journalism by joining the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception as a postdoctoral fellow. She created hands-on activities and workshops for K-12 teachers, and the opportunity helped her discover her passion for science education. Her experience in writing was not in vain, however, as she notes “writing is one of the tools I carry in my kit toward creating effective education programs.”

Dr. Chasteen then joined the Science Education Initiative (colorado.edu/sei) at the University of Colorado at Boulder to work on transforming undergraduate science classes using research available on effective science education. Chasteen brought her experience in journalism to the physics education research group creating videos and podcasts for teachers about effective educational techniques, and in return, she received training in the methods and literature of science education.

Today, Dr. Chasteen still works with the Science Education Initiative as their outreach director, helping to spread the word through videos and workshops about research-based teaching techniques. She has also started her own consulting business (www.sciencegeekgirl.com). Through her business, she works on a variety of projects including directing videos to highlight the best use of the PhET Interactive Simulations (phet.colorado.edu/), reviewing K-12 student activity booklets, serving as an external evaluator for educational programs, and writing press releases about physics education research results to promote the field in the popular media.

She notes that her networking and volunteer work helped get her to this point, and for those interested in getting involved in science education and outreach, she advises them to approach networking “with a sense of genuine curiosity and interest in people.” Opportunities such as presenting at a science book club, auditing a writing course, and judging science fairs have led to job opportunities and helped shaped Chasteen’s career path.

Chasteen also credits her interest in diverse areas with leading her to create the specialization that she is now known for within the physics education research community. She notes that she was never sure of where her interests would lead her, but she just continued to follow what sparked her passion. “I think it’s so important to explore the things that we find fascinating, because that exploration can lead to great things.”

{ 1 comment }

Holly Walter Kerby April 29, 2013 at 12:53 am

Nice article. Thanks for posting. We all benefit from eclectic, smart, passionate people like you.

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