In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of scientific modeling in science learning environments. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Dan Damelin (The Concord Consortium) and Brian Reiser (Northwestern University), discussing this important topic related to our MoHSES, NE WETS, WELS2, and WELL projects.
In a new video series from CADRE, a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program, I had a chance to share a bit about the importance of education research. It’s very exciting to be featured as part of a group, including Christine Cunningham (Museum of Science), Kathy Perkins (University of Colorado, Boulder), Vikram Kapila (NYU), discussing the empirical work that goes hand-in-hand with educational design and development associated with all my projects.
I am pleased and honored to have been named a a SENCER Leadership Fellow by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE). The SENCER network represents a commitment by STEM faculty and administrators, both locally and nationally, who are deeply aware of the critical role science plays in cultivating and maintaining a healthy society and functioning democracy. It was a pleasure to host former Executive Director Wm. David Burns as a visiting speaker at UNL and to engage with the SENCER community in recent years. I look forward to continuing to contribute to SENCER and NCSCE in the years to come.
In December I had the opportunity to travel back to Germany to spend a week collaborating with colleagues Dr. Jan C. Schubert, Professor for Geographical and Geoscience Education at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert, Professor of Elementary STEM Education at the University of Leipzig. It was wonderful to spend time working with both of their research teams, as well as to attend Dr. Lange-Schubert’s inaugural address at the University of Leipzig. I look forward to continued collaboration and ongoing productive endeavors with these amazing scholars and science educators.
On Monday, December 12th, over 175 science educators from across the state of Nebraska had the opportunity to come together at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln for the Nebraska K-12 Science Education Summit. Organized and led by Sara Cooper, Science Education Director at the Nebraska Department of Education, and I, the event provided a forum for science education administrators, science teachers, STEM faculty, and stakeholders to engage in statewide discussions about K-12 science education efforts. This included a workshop on the Next Generation Science Standards and Nebraska state science standards, as well as concurrent sessions in which UNL faculty and others shared innovative science education resources and strategies with practitioners. We were fortunate to have Chancellor Ronnie Green stop by in the afternoon to welcome attendees and provide some critical insights into the importance of collaboration between K-12 schools and the NU system. The event was co-sponsored the Nebraska Department of Education, IANR Science Literacy, NebraskaSCIENCE, the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, Nebraska 4-H, and the Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education. This was a wonderfully productive experience for all involved and we look forward to holding the event again in future years to enhance and synergize the teaching and learning of science in Nebraska.
In the Fall, 2016 semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach one of four large sections a required course for all CASNR students – SCIL 101 Science and Decision-Making for a Complex World. The class, re-conceptualized and redeveloped from a long-standing introductory course (AGRI/NRES 103 Introduction to Agricultural and Natural Resource Systems), involves students learning to make science-informed decisions about agriculture and natural resource issues. Comprised of four modules designed around food, energy, and water issues, SCIL 101 offers students the opportunity explore these challenges issues from multiple perspectives, ultimately conducting independent research on a question of their choosing. My section of the class this fall had 130 students, almost half of which were CASNR undergraduate students from Rwanda studying in IANR to become future agricultural leaders in their home country. I am also very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, including WELL project graduate students Diane Lally and Destini Petitt, and Science Literacy graduate student McKenzie Peterson.
Congratulations to Tina Vo on being selected as a 2016-17 CADRE Fellow! This wonderful experience, administered by the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) and open to graduate students funded on NSF DRK-12 projects, will afford many productive opportunities to network and develop skills that will enhance Tina’s preparation for early-career research and teaching. Tina has worked on the MoHSES project for the past 4 years as a graduate assistant, first as a masters student at the University of Iowa and now as a Ph.D. student at UNL. She is currently involved in a significant number of research studies investigating both student and teacher dimensions of MoHSES work focused on model-based teaching and learning about water systems at the elementary level. She has also contributed to other externally-funded water education projects, including NE WETS and WELS2.
In October, the 2017 STEM Education Research Retreat was held on East Campus in Hardin Hall in partnership between the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, IANR Science Literacy, and the Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education. Over 75 UNL faculty, postdocs, and graduate students representing nearly all of UNL’s academic Colleges and Extension participated in this year’s event. Over 30 posters were presented in two consecutive poster sessions, showcasing the high-quality and innovative STEM education research being conducted at the university and across the state. Participants also participated in an interactive webinar with NSF Program Officers to learn more about the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) funding program. It was a pleasure to co-plan and host this event in conjunction with colleagues from across campuses. Kudos to Devarati Bhattacharya, Erin Ingram, Tina Vo, Diane Lally, Kari Nelson, Destini Petitt, and McKenzie Peterson for presenting their research, including work from the MoHSES, WELL, and UnICORN projects.
Thanks to Troy Sadler, Laura Zangori, and the rest of the team with the ReSTEM Institute in the University of Missouri College of Education for a engaging and productive couple of days of collaboration with Jenny Dauer and myself. It was a great conversation around socio-scientific issues, science-informed decision-making, and science literacy in a range of K-16 contexts and across an array of unique projects. I look forward to working with ReSTEM as the external evaluation team on the Fostering Undergraduate Students’ Disciplinary Learning and Water Literacy (WELL) project, funded by an NSF IUSE grant (DUE-1609598), and the SCIL/AECN/NRES 109: Water in Society course over the next 3 years.
A new article co-authored by Jenny Dauer and I has been published in the Summer, 2016 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal. The paper, entitled Making Decisions about Complex Socioscientific Issues: A Multidisciplinary Science Course, reports on the initial iteration of a revised version of a large-enrollment, interdisciplinary, introductory undergraduate course required of all students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR). The course represents a core element of programmatic efforts associated with the IANR Science Literacy Initiative to cultivate science literacy among undergraduate students at UNL.