Young people can often be discouraged from engaging with STEM subjects because they seem to have little obvious connection to their everyday lives. At Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, an innovative program led by Dr Tennille D. Presley, is seeking to engage students by combining physics and biology with an art that is central to many students’ social lives: music. Early results from the program suggest that it has been successful in making science exciting and showing students that physics is involved in everything.
Founded in 1938, the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) is an organisation of educators that promotes biology teaching, supports learning methods based on scientific principles and advocates for biology within society. In this exclusive interview, we have had the pleasure of speaking with NABT’s Executive Director, Jaclyn (Jacki) Reeves-Pepin, and President, Sharon Gusky, who discuss the varied ways in which the Association empowers educators to provide the best possible biology and life science education for all students, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The environmental sciences are vitally important to address many urgent global challenges, such as climate change, agricultural sustainability, conservation and pollution. To lead the innovations that will bring us closer to achieving these goals, a diverse, well-trained and qualified workforce is required. In their new teaching program, Dr Elica Moss and her team of scientists at Alabama A&M University provide students with extensive training in advanced biotechnological methods and invaluable research experience, towards building a skilled and diverse scientific workforce that can take on humanity’s greatest challenges.
Providing high school students with nutrition-related knowledge enables them to lead healthier lives by selecting foods that are both tasty and nutritious. Researchers at Middle Tennessee State University and Lipscomb University have created a course designed to offer high school students the opportunity to become acquainted with the field of nutrition, allowing them to apply this knowledge to improve their personal lives, earn college-level credit and prepare for future careers.
Scientistt is a new networking platform for PhD students and early-career researchers, where they can connect with others in similar fields, share their work, and access up-to-date information about conferences, funding and training opportunities. In this exclusive interview, we speak with Hassan Mahmudul, Scientistt’s CEO and founder, and Callum Elson, head of marketing, who tell us all about this thriving new community, and their hopes for the future.
Dr Zenaida Aguirre Muñoz | Dr Magdalena Pando | Dr Michelle Pantoya – Fostering Enthusiasm for Engineering from an Early Age
As engineering and other scientific disciplines play an increasingly prominent role in our society, it is crucial to introduce children to these subjects from an early age, as this could encourage them to pursue careers in these fields in the future. With this in mind, Dr Zenaida Aguirre Muñoz, Dr Magdalena Pando, and Dr Michelle Pantoya have been conducting research investigating the effectiveness of teaching practices and methods aimed at introducing young children to engineering and science.
Engineering students can benefit greatly from interacting with physical objects whose attributes mimic those of real-world systems. So far, however, objects that do this effectively have proven to be extremely difficult to create. To solve the problem, Dr Diana Bairaktarova at Virginia Tech suggests that taught engineering courses could recreate practical situations more reliably using virtual objects, or ‘vObjects’. If her approach becomes widely adopted, it could transform how engineering students learn to apply their skills to complex, often unpredictable scenarios.
SciGirls is an educational television show, website, and outreach program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), aimed at encouraging more girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. As part of a research effort called SciGirls CONNECT, Roxanne Hughes, Kari Roberts and Jennifer Schellinger at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have been investigating the impact that SciGirls outreach programs across the nation, such as after-school clubs and summer camps, have on students’ STEM identity.
Canada, like most other countries worldwide, is facing serious issues related to water security. To better address these challenges, Dr Cherie Westbrook at the University of Saskatchewan, and her collaborators from various Canadian universities, developed NSERC CREATE for Water Security. This add-on academic program provides graduate and postgraduate students with skills and learning opportunities that prepare them to tackle current and future water security issues.
It is undoubtable that virtual reality and augmented reality will soon be an integral part of our daily lives at home, in education, and at work. Here, we look at some of the exciting projects that Dr William Hurst of the Department of Computer Science at Liverpool John Moores University is driving forward and read how he is embracing virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance teaching and education, providing insight into how such technology may be utilised in the not too distant future.
Despite recent efforts to promote diversity in STEM education and professional environments, some ethnic groups remain highly underrepresented in STEM fields, including the Hispanic/LatinX community. To tackle this underrepresentation, researchers at the University of San Diego have created a multi-dimensional program funded by the National Science Foundation called STEMWoW, which is designed to promote and sustain interest in STEM disciplines among middle school students from underserved communities.
The field of nanomaterials has exploded in recent years, and perhaps the main pillar of its success has been a close collaboration between institutions and research groups across the globe. In September 2019, Dr Habil Souren Grigorian at the University of Siegen, Professor Ishkhan Vardanyan at Yerevan State University and their colleagues organised an event that showcased Armenia’s growing interest in this area of research. Following a week of activities widely praised by its participants, the Advanced Nanomaterials and Methods (ANAM) 2019 International Workshop and Young Scientist School promises to spark further innovation in nanomaterials research in Armenia and the surrounding regions.
Dr Christine Pfund is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. With a strong network of colleagues and collaborators, her work focuses on developing, implementing, documenting, and studying interventions to optimise research mentoring relationships across science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. Read on to discover how the success of these initiatives has resulted in the development of a national network of mentors in the USA.
With ongoing climate change, land use change, and changing disturbance regimes that negatively impact Earth’s ecosystems, it is critical that educators convey the importance of safeguarding the natural environment to younger generations to prepare them to face current and future environmental challenges. Teaching Change comprises a collection of innovative programs aimed at strengthening the relationship between youth and nature in Hawaiʻi while also inspiring Hawaii’s youth to become the next generation of natural resource scientists and managers. Teaching Change addresses this mission through immersive, place-based, outdoor Field Courses for local students, and Teacher Training Workshops for local teachers.
Science education is critical to prepare students for the world and jobs of the future, yet many institutions in the United States are using outdated educational models to teach science. The PULSE working group is a team of educators and administrators working to shift the culture of biology departments for stronger student outcomes in the life sciences.
Dr Korbinian Moeller and a team of researchers at the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien are endeavouring to identify the cognitive and neuronal processes underpinning an individual’s mathematical ability, by exploring the concept of embodied numerical training.
Dr Jean-Luc Patry | Dr Angela Gastager | Barbara Fageth – Improving Education Through Cultivating Pedagogical Tact
Pedagogical tact is broadly defined as a concept that addresses how teachers transfer educational theories to their teaching practice, in order to achieve their educational goals (which include students’ learning) most successfully. Although this concept has been widely referred to in past research, it remains very complex and difficult to define. To better delineate this concept, researchers at the University of Salzburg and the University College of Teacher Education Styria have developed a new theory of pedagogical tact and explored its validity in school and university settings. By better conceiving this concept, the researchers hope to help educators to cultivate pedagogical tact, enhancing the academic development of their students.
Founded almost 90 years ago, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) is a professional society dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in physics education. The Association represents a diverse network of educators who all learn from each other about the most effective ways to teach physics, to reach all students. In this exclusive interview, we speak with AAPT’s President Professor Mel Sabella, who tells us about AAPT’s varied activities and goals. He also explains how the Association focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion to greatly enhance physics education in the US and further afield.
The ocean plays a central role in regulating the Earth’s climate and is at the front line in the battle against climate change. However, there are still many unknowns in ocean science. In recognition of this, the University of Delaware’s Dr Edward Urban and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) are working hard to improve interdisciplinary marine education worldwide. SCOR aims to increase fundamental knowledge of the ocean, and to motivate and train the next generation of young scientists in modern ocean science, particularly those from developing countries.
Women of colour face many obstacles in their pursuit of STEM education and employment, especially in the field of physics. Dr Apriel Hodari, Principal Investigator at Eureka Scientific, and Dr Angela Johnson of Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, have been working on strategies to remove these barriers. Their solution involves significant cultural change within an institution, catalysed by strong leadership at the top.
Many of the greatest challenges currently facing humanity, such as climate change and effective urbanisation, are multifaceted and intricate, with multiple moving parts. Complex systems analysts pull data and insights from diverse components to generate dynamic…
Recognising students with great potential and supporting them in their academic endeavours is of utmost importance, particularly for disadvantaged children from rural areas or low-income families. Dr Susan Assouline and Dr Lori Ihrig, at the University of Iowa’s...
Underrepresented is not often the thought that comes to mind when describing males in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, there are striking gender and ethnic disparities across STEM fields as white males disproportionately occupy the...
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from abroad and from Germany. To this end, it grants more than 700 research fellowships and research awards annually. These allow researchers from all over...
Diversity of outlook is essential for any scientific endeavour. Improving this diversity is the goal of the ASCEND Program, led by Professors Farin Kamangar and Payam Sheikhattari at Morgan State University, USA. Here, we showcase their work aiming to improve the...
Over the past few decades, research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has experienced a major shift towards collaboration. On a quest to prepare graduate students for today’s team-based research environments, Dr Susan Cozzens at Georgia...
The borrowing and lending of educational models between nations has a long and interesting history. However, much of modern literature focuses on transfers between capitalist societies. Professor Ingrid Miethe of the University of Gießen studies the global transfer of...
Optics is an intrinsic part of many powerful and developing technologies in areas such as biotechnology, national security and manufacturing. However, there is a global shortage of optics technicians, which is hindering progress. To address this, Dr Alexis Vogt of...
Rapid growth in the number and diversity of digital media outlets is creating novel opportunities to increase public engagement with science. Dr Daniel J. McGarvey and Sarah E. Faris, working at Virginia Commonwealth University, have developed an interdisciplinary...
Dr Rebecca Matz | Dr Sonia Underwood | Dr Kristin Parent – A Three-Dimensional Approach to Connecting Biology & Chemistry
Applying knowledge from one discipline to another is an oft-cited goal for undergraduate students. However, in many universities, science courses are taught essentially in isolation and do not provide adequate opportunities for students to connect their knowledge...