Alumni Spotlight: Chemical Kim

image4Over the past 10 years I’ve taken my love of teaching chemistry to the community and volunteer bringing hands-on learning to schools, organizations, libraries, the children’s hospital, and television science segments on ABC affiliate stations (WZZM 13 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ABC7 in Fort Myers, Florida). I present a blend of smart and entertaining hands-on science activities that motivate kids to continually question and investigate their world. My encouragement is to never stop being curious and never stop seeking the answers.

In addition, I utilize mobile technology in my teaching in the chemistry classroom, laboratory, and science outreach. I’ve authored several technology grants and have led several workshops at local colleges and schools teaching on the integration of mobile technology in the classroom.

I started into the education program at MTU as a junior as a result of two friends majoring in mathematics that convinced me to join them. I really wasn’t expecting to go into teaching. I loved chemistry and was planning on a career as a research chemist. Standing in front of a group of people was always so fearful to me. As I got farther into the education program, I started to discover how much I was enjoying my classes. It got me thinking how many college chemistry professors really don’t know how to teach. This motivated me more in the education program at MTU. I started to feel like I could be that change and teach chemistry better than it was taught to me. The education program at MTU gave me that “face your fear and find your passion” moment. I faced my fear of being in front of a group of people and found a passion that made everyday of going to work since, a joy.

My advice to current teachers is to do what you love. If you don’t find a love in your subject or in teaching it, don’t force it. The teaching world is filled with too many who complain about teaching, students, and the hard work for so little pay. Yes, the pay is little and yes, the work is hard… but if you love it, you will not regret a day of your career choice. You will make a difference to the world because you’re giving the good part of yourself, the happy part.

Always be yourself and do not teach a particular style just because that’s how you were taught. Teaching is always evolving and be ready for constant change. The best experiences you can bring to the classroom are your life experiences. Use your personality and life experiences to make the best environment for learning. In the early years of your teaching, keep learning more hands-on about your subject and education. Substitute teach, participate in research, attend workshops and seminars, become active at your school. And if you have time, volunteer in your community.

If you’re enjoying teaching, then your students are probably enjoying learning. And if your nervous, that is good because nerves means you care. The day I’m not nervous or a bit scared to go into a classroom might be the day I might be ready to retire from teaching.

To learn more, check out Chemical Kim’s social media sites: www.youtube.com/scistudiowww.chemicalkim.com


World Class Expert on Cognitive Systems Engineering Visits CLS

Dr. Robert HoffmaIMG_2692n, world renowned expert on cognitive systems engineering and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Human Machine Cognition (IHMC), gave a talk on April 9, entitled, “Integrated Model of Macrocognition” for students and faculty in Cognitive and Learning Sciences and Human Computing Center at MTU. IHMC, based in Pensacola, Florida, is a leading organization in research to understand and extend human capabilities and technologies.

Dr. Hoffman is working with MTU Faculty, Dr. Shane Mueller on a DARPA project to develop explainable AI.

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Dr. Lark Receives New Funding

lark-personnelAmy Lark, Assistant Professor in Applied Science Education, was one of the Michigan Tech faculty members to receive an award exceeding $5,000 from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium for her program “Teacher Training: The Next Generation Science Standards in Theory and Practice”.  Click here to see a full list of recipients.

NASA implemented the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989 to provide funding for research, education and public outreach in space-related science and technology. The program has 52 university-based consortia in the United States and Puerto Rico.

As an affiliate of the Michigan Consortium, Michigan Tech has been an active participant in MSGC for approximately 20 years. MSGC funding is administered through MTU’s Pavlis Honors College. For more information, contact Paige Hackney in the Pavlis Honors College, call 7-4371, or visit the MSGC website.



New Publication in K-12 STEM Education

Cover of the International Journal of STEM Education, four circles overlappingDrs. Dare and Ellis of the Teacher Education program in Cognitive and Learning Sciences have published new research in the International Journal of STEM Education. Along with their co-author, Dr. Gillian Roehrig at the University of Minnesota, Drs. Dare and Ellis explore middle school teachers’ experiences in their first-time implementation of integrated STEM curriculum units. This article is publicly available through Open Access.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Joshua Ellis

Ellis was mentioned recently in Seely’s article about Cécile Piret (Math). He was, and is, her partner in studying how students learn in Calculus 3 by adding 3-D printers to class exercises. Seely indicates Ellis merits recognition in the Showcase in his own right, saying, “We expect CLS faculty to integrates research on education and learning with his classroom endeavors, but Josh’s approaches merit special attention.”
Ellis began his career as a K-12 teacher in Minneapolis, and knew from the beginning that he was expected to actively consider how a teacher’s decisions affected students. He elaborates, “I asked myself questions every day: How do I know when learning is happening in my classroom? How do my students learn best? What’s my role as the instructor?”
Importantly, he found that the answers to these questions often changed, leading him to adopt a research-like approach. “I sought to identify what helped my students succeed and what inhibited their growth as learners.”
He also entered the STEM Education doctoral program at the University of Minnesota, where faculty embraced this connection between research and educational practice. “I learned how to rigorously analyze teaching through a research lens, and I also learned how to conduct more meaningful research through the teaching lens. I firmly believe that I need both research and teaching to do it.”
This synthesis is embedded in Ellis’ research and classroom instruction at Michigan Tech, where he teaches future K-16 educators. His approach is especially useful when exploring how educational technology can support student learning. This might be best shown by a comment Ellis shared from B.W. Seibert: “Teachers will never be replaced by technology … but teachers who use technology effectively will replace those who do not.”
Ellis considers this perspective “both a warning and an opportunity for education students at Tech eager to use the incredible technological tools of our age to push the boundaries of what we think learning is.” He applies Seibert in his instructional technology course (ED3100) and in his work developing the new foundations of online teaching (ED5101) course. Both courses help educators learn to reach broader audiences, engage diverse participants and empower people of all abilities and backgrounds to achieve more. Students “learn how technology can lower barriers to finding information and more quickly allow students to seek knowledge and understanding.”
This insight explains Ellis’s enthusiasm for 3-D printers as tools that can create solution spaces for mathematics problems. He added that he feels a responsibility to model himself those practices he hopes his students will adopt within their future classrooms. “Educators who engage in these practices are poised to inspire interest, creativity and excellence in their students. I’m incredibly proud of the work that I do as an educational researcher and as an instructor to create these opportunities for our students.”
Seely agrees, and that is why he chose Ellis as this week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase member. Ellis will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.
by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning


Transdisciplinary: Working Across the Campus

Michigan Technological University’s transdisciplinary researchers reach across disciplines and institutional boundaries to solve complex problems that are bigger than a single specialized field.

Kelly Steelman, an assistant professor of cognitive & learning sciences, says diversity is good for problem-solving. If you only have a spoon, the only food you’ll want to eat is soup.

“The more tools you have available to your research team, the more likely you are to consider a variety of solutions and not get stuck always trying to use the same approach to every problem… The more perspectives we bring to the table, the better opportunity we have to create innovative and transformative solutions.”

Read the full story on the Michigan Tech News Website.



Students Inducted into the National Honor Society in Psychology

IMG_8054The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences inducted seven new members into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology: Glory Creed, Elizabeth Kelliher, Abigail Kuehne, Mariah Sherman, Kay Tislar, Samantha Verran, and Kira Warner. The induction ceremony took place at the Harold Meese Center on Sunday, December 3.  The Michigan Tech Chapter of Psi Chi is led by Halie Hart (President) and Caden Sumner (Treasurer) and advised by Dr. Kelly Steelman.