NDeRC has now spent a couple of solid years trying to work out what a blogging culture might look like in an integrated STEM community context. Above is a map of the NDeRC Blogosphere…its larger features…as of the end of May 2011. The blogosphere consists of individual blogs (some 50 of them), as well as common-interest blogs into which individual bloggers can cross-list their blog posts. These common blogs are organized by smaller units of common interest and effort, the collaboration blogs, or by the most common level of interest, the MichianaSTEM Community blog. If you’re interested in joining this blogging community, you can subscribe anytime–137 people have done this as of the time of this posting. Contact me if you’d like to blog:)
This visualization was created using Many Eyes, an IBM-sponsored social visualization site. (If you don’t see any visualization, just refresh your page.) This java-based visualization is interactive…click on it to interact. Then consider visiting the Many Eyes site to create your own:)
Stacy McCormack Named as 2011 Recipient of Paul W. Zitzewitz Excellence in Pre-College Teaching Award
By American Association of Physics Teachers on March 31, 2011 3:04 PM
College Park, Maryland, United States, February 14, 2011–The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) announced today that the 2011 Paul Zitzewitz Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching Award winner is Stacy McCormack, a high school physics teacher at Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN. This award is in recognition of contributions to pre-college physics teaching and awardees are chosen for their extraordinary accomplishments in communicating the excitement of physics to their students.
Steve Hope, Principal of Penn High School said, “Stacy is nothing short of a master teacher. She maintains high standards, teaches to every modality through a wide variety of creative assignments, differentiates her instruction to meet individual needs, personalizes instruction, incorporates current technology, and uses current research to guide her teaching. Stacy creates an atmosphere of support, healthy risk taking, and camaraderie in her classes. She has taken technology and integrated that with her best practices to further motivate and engage students.”
McCormack has a BS in Secondary Education from Indiana University and earned her MA in Physics Education from Ball State University. She has received numerous awards including Indiana State Teacher of the Year 2011, Penn-Harris-Madison 2010 Teacher of the year, and the Martha Lee and Bill Armstrong Teacher Educator award. She has been involved in the Quarknet Research Experience for Teachers program at the University of Notre Dame and she was selected as one of five teachers in the United States to attend a three-week conference at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland during the summer of 2006.
A member of AAPT and teacher of First Year Physics, Integrated Chemistry/Physics, and online adjunct instructor of Astronomy, Physics, and Physical Science classes for Ivy Tech Community College, she is also the author of Teacher Friendly Physics, a book designed to help science teachers plan affordable lab projects.
On her selection for this recognition, McCormack said, “I am extremely honored to accept the Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching at the Summer AAPT meeting in Omaha. Thank you so much for recognizing the important role of high school physics educators across the country. It means the world to me to receive this award.”
Previous winners of the award are listed here. Congratulations, Stacy!
If you teach older students, you’ve probably fielded this question. Here is physicist Niel deGrasse Tyson’s brief response to that question. (As always, just refresh the page if the video doesn’t load in your browser window.)
While the emphasis Tyson places on the economic dimension of that answer is appropriate, there are other important aspects of the question. We wouldn’t justify education in music or in literature only in economic terms, though there are economic justifications along the same lines that Tyson offers. But we’d be more inclined in these cases to make an overall quality-of-life argument. Life is much richer because of music and literature. If you didn’t know that, you’de be left out, marginalized, from important dimensions of human experience. The argument for universal STEM literacy–fluency in science, technology, engineering, mathematics–is much the same, if widely appreciated.
When it comes to values, arguments have their place. But it is culture, not argument, that carries the burden of persuasion. Culture involves the full sum of the impressions a human being experiences; arguments are a small part of those impressions. The task of culture is to make things that are good, look good; the task of argument about values is to justify the shaping of culture. So we need a culture of STEM literacy, something much broader than an argument for it.
“Fun” seems to be the most basic and deeply rooted element of culture: learning begins with play. (“No forced learning sticks in the soul”, Plato wrote in the Republic.) We need the STEM disciplines to seem more fun. Many teachers are gifted at making STEM learning seem fun at their own student grade levels. But we need a craft–a skill set held together by a reflective community of practitioners–of making STEM learning seem fun, engaging, fascinating, important, awe-inspiring, throughout the full development cycle of students. Tyson is right when he says that Math needs better marketing. But such marketing is the job of STEM educators. We’ve got to master the craft of presenting the STEM disciplines in appealing ways, not only to our own students but in a way that effectively issues a coherent invitation across the range of ages of all our students, the general public, and even to ourselves.
Creating this master-craft of STEM education requires more communication among a wide variety of practitioners than we usually experience. That’s one reason why blogs are so important: they can lower the cost of interaction between us. We need all the efficiency we can get, because we need to do more than we’re doing. So to use a time-honored teacher’s phrase: we’ve got to work smarter, not harder. So subscribe, get your colleagues to subscribe, and read occasionally. Then comment. Then post something yourself. This is a direction we need to grow for Michiana STEM education to flourish. Our students need to believe that STEM literacy is a great thing, and eventually they need to know why. And they need to hold this opinion not just for a short time while in the classroom of their favorite teacher or at some less troubled age, but throughout their entire lives. We need to lead them there.