Changing how universities teach science: The SEI Model

June 21, 2017

We know a lot about how to improve STEM teaching and learning at the college level, and yet these improvements have yet to take hold in a widespread manner.  This is the perennial problem which many of us in STEM education are wrestling with.  The study of institutional change is expanding ever more, including lessons […]

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Arguing against a denier: How to convince a die-hard

May 19, 2011

What does Obama’s birth certificate have to do with science education? A lot, it turns out. Check out this awesome post by FastCompany. Apparently, despite the fact that the birth certificate has been revealed, a lot of die-hard skeptics are still arguing that Obama is not native to the U.S. How can reasonable people firmly […]

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Beautiful data… visualizing science!

April 24, 2011

I have been absent for too long — this time for a good cause:  Vacation!  Geekgirl enjoyed California and Vegas and anything not involving a computer for over a week.  It is a good experience to have at least once a year.  And in return, dear reader, I give you a nice long post.  Thank […]

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A thoughtful approach to instruction: Course transformation for the rest of us

April 13, 2011

I keep meaning to write a post about my most recent publication in the Journal of College Science Teaching:  A Thoughtful Approach to Instruction (downloads seem to be free).  The program I’m part of at the University of Colorado is the Science Education Initiative.  Started by Carl Wieman when he got the Nobel Prize for […]

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The Venn Diagram of Awesome: What Dracula, zombies and Frankenstein have in common with Jesus

January 4, 2011

At a recent Ignite presentation in Boulder, a speaker showed this as one of his slides.  He continued to talk for about 5 seconds, which was as long as it took us to read a few of the overlaps and start to get it.  I had no idea what he said after that, since I […]

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So cool! 3D micrographs of snowflakes

December 30, 2010

Just in time for our first big snow here in Boulder, Wired just published a set of beautiful micrographs of snowflakes, and as a bonus, some of them are in 3D! Here is one of the 3D images.  It’s a DIY 3D — let your eyes relax and blur, so that you’re slightly crossing them, […]

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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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Ideas for teaching the phases of the moon

April 27, 2010

A while back, a teacher on a listserv asked for some ideas and resources for teaching the science of the phases of the moon.  Veteran teacher Eric Plett shared this great hands-on activity that I thought merited a blog post of its own. 1.  Darken your room and get a bright light source like an […]

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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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Will it sink or float? Soda cans and density.

February 26, 2010

Many teachers know the value of finding those surprising science experiments and demonstrations that hook kids’ attention.  One popular one is to have kids predict whether soda cans will sink or float, which turns out to be a nice hook for ideas of density.  Kids generally figure that if one thing of a kind sinks […]

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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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Beyond the science vs religion debate (??)

February 6, 2010

I’ve always been marginally interested in the intersection between science and religion — I think in part because I do have a strong spiritual connection to the world, but through my awe in the workings of the natural world.  I’ve been told by a Christian that I worship the “created” (i.e., the natural world and […]

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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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The science of the winter olympics

January 15, 2010

NBC Learn has a bunch of free online educational videos, such as word roots and documentaries.  Now, with the NSF, they also have a set of videos all about the winter olympic games!  The science of snowboarding, hockey, figure skating, and more!  I took a look and was favorably impressed — they’re about 5 minutes […]

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How a scientist becomes a freelance science writer

January 5, 2010

Edit 1/8/18:  There may be some opportunities for budding science writers on the startup website Kolabtree, which connects freelance scientists with industry.  Explore projects needing science writers in their Writing Services section. I recently wrote an article for the National Association of Science Writers, on my career path to becoming a freelance science educator and writer.  […]

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Science cliche’s to chuck down the black hole

December 10, 2009

The National Association of Science Writers has a nice news feed now (check it out at, though the RSS feed isn’t obvious — ask me if you want it).  So, here I’m reposted a repost of a Wired article on Five Atrocious Science Cliche’s. Think that it’s time that we found a silver bullet […]

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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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