higher education

Learning Assistant Liveblogging: Pedagogy course

November 3, 2011

Once again, liveblogging from the national Learning Assistant Workshop in Boulder. When we started out the conference this afternoon, and participants shared their primary area of interest in learning more about effectively running an LA program, I’d say about half of the crowd Steve Iona talked to us about what that pedagogy course entails, and […]

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Classroom activities on the atmosphere

November 23, 2010

Teaching about the atmosphere?  Here are a few ideas for the classroom. Activities about the atmosphere are particularly well suited for talking about air pressure, since air pressure is essentially the weight of the atmosphere pushing down on us.  At the Exploratorium we had a couple of really great activities to get at this idea. […]

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What we’re NOT doing to train future physics teachers

October 14, 2010

Yesterday, we had a fascinating, but sobering, presentation from a group of physics educators charged with giving the nation a snapshot of how well we’re doing in training the next generation of physics educators.  It’s a pretty grim picture.  “Students who are becoming physics teachers are doing it on their own,” said David Meltzer, “and […]

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Education technology posts at AAPT (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

I’ve posted several items about educational technology from AAPT on my other blog, TheActiveClass.  You can see those here: Do students learn better with peer instruction?  Does it last? Common challenges in using clickers Effective use of technology in physics education

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Being smart about studying (#ACPEEP)

June 17, 2010

Students are notoriously un-smart about their study habits.  We know that anecdotally, but we’ve also got some solid data to show how bad they are.  A lot of the problem is that we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve learned something.  From one of the ACPEEP’s summary documents: Many experiments have shown that repeated study […]

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What did your science teachers do right? (or wrong)

May 18, 2010

I went into physics in large part because of my (now long-retired) physics teacher Mr. Perry.  Gruff and tough, he made physics seem this fun thing that you could do if you worked hard at it.   He was funny, and had good explanations, and we loved him.  But in retrospect, I also think he […]

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I guess I really rock…

March 17, 2010

A few posts ago I noted that, apparently, I rock, as my picture was featured as part of the Exploratorium’s website for their Rockin’ Science Series. And now, I have confirmation, as I was just interviewed for the findingEducation’s Educators That Rock! series.  They did a very nice interview with me, about my love for […]

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USA Science & Engineering Festival – October in DC

March 10, 2010

Sorry I neglected to write a post with real content last week, but I have one in the works!  Stay tuned.  For now, though, here’s a note about an science festival event in DC that they’re trying to create some advance buzz on.  I’m a big fan of science festivals — bring science to the […]

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PhET on Voice of America

February 19, 2010

Our PhET interactive simulation project was just featured on Voice of America. It’s a nice short piece that gives information about PhET and why it’s helpful for student learning. Kudos to my boss Kathy Perkins who was succinct and clear — not always an easy task. Below is the text from the VOA site And […]

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The Exploratorium discovers anti-gravity

February 15, 2010

The Exploratorium museum houses many wonderful science and perception exhibits, one of which is the anti-gravity mirror — a simple perception exhibit consisting of a big mirror with a platform hidden on the back side.  The explainers (the high school kids employed by the Exploratorium to do a lot of the demos and help visitors […]

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Summer programs for science teachers and students

February 14, 2010

In the midst of winter’s snowfalls, it’s time to consider what you (and your students) might be doing this summer.  Here is a list of all the different summer program  opportunities for science teachers and students I’ve run across recently. Firstly, NSTA publishes a list of professional development opportunities here. Their list includes: The STORM […]

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Aspiring Teachers – Speak up!

February 10, 2010

Project Tomorrow (which does really good work) is creating a new survey of teachers, to get the lay of the land in teacher prep.  This one is the first one, I believe, in which they’re including aspiring teachers.  Here is the blurb — if you’re seeking your credentials, consider contributing your voice to the survey!  […]

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Electricity makes flowers grow

February 2, 2010

Here’s a wonderful tidbit from a book that every physics teacher should have — The Flying Circus of Physics.  My old mentor PD gave it to me with the inscription, “until I write my book of physics stories, this is the best collection of science stories in print.”  As much as I love Paul, I […]

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Science geek resources

January 29, 2010

Here’s a list o’ lists, a compilation of compilations, all sorts of science geek resources that you might find helpful! First, here’s a list of blogs about women and science (mine made the list, woo-hoo!).  This is a nice little list with descriptions of each of the blogs and their perspective (from Under the Microscope, […]

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Misconceptions about misconceptions

December 3, 2009

I’ve got a new podcast posted, this one with my esteemed colleague Valerie Otero of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  She tells us why she thinks that the idea of student “misconceptions” is very dangerous — and gives us a new way to think about student ideas in the classroom, and some activities to […]

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We learn by taking tests (even when we get the wrong answer)

November 25, 2009

photo by Patrick Hannigan (click for Wikimedia link) We think of taking tests as something to assess whether we learned something, but there is a fascinating set of literature that shows that it does more than that.  Tests can be learning events in their own right.  It makes sense when you think about it.  How […]

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Making light rays in the classroom

November 14, 2009

In optics experiments, you often need to create lines of light.  You can do this with light boxes, but they’re expensive, and tend to  have too many rays to be useful.  Laser light boxes are great, but again, spendy. One teacher recommends using laser levels. These are the things made to help you hang pictures […]

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Are lectures evil?

September 14, 2009

No, of course not.  But to hear us education folks prattle on, you’d think that an instructor who lectures to their students is doing them a grave disservice. Well, if all they’re doing is lecture, then their students could be getting more bang for their buck.  But lecturing is perhaps an indispensable part of class, […]

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Say what? Promoting discussion in online courses (#coltt2009)

August 12, 2009

Blogging from the Colorado Teaching and Learning with Technology (COLTT) conference.  This session, from Joni Dunlap, how to promote discussion in online courses. How can we get learners to talk in online discussions, and how can we get the chatty students to shut up?  The results have been pretty disappointing so far.  Most instructors set […]

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Scholarship in the digital age #coltt2009

August 12, 2009

I’m blogging today from another conference — the Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) conference. The keynote speaker is Richard Katz, the VP of Educause. It’s an old story by now that digital technology has completely changed how we access media — nobody under 30 reads newspapers, and newspapers haven’t responded with a new […]

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