After two decades teaching high school physics and mathematics, I learned to use an extremely effective method for teaching–Modelling Instruction. The impact of the modelling learning environment on student thinking was both profound and fascinating. After using the method for a number of years in my classroom I returned to the university to study student sense-making in physics. After completing my PhD I focused on teaching teachers. I was a professor of science education at Arizona State University (ASU), helping to create a master of natural science program for STEM teaching for middle and high school teachers. In 2017 I left ASU to become the first Executive Officer of the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA), a grassroots organisation that provides community, professional development, and curriculum resources for the roughly 15,000 teachers worldwide who use the Modeling method of instruction. In 2017 I became AMTA’s first Senior Fellow. My time is now devoted to research, development, and mentoring. My goal is to help science teachers to teach brilliantly.
I’m currently partnering with Global Hands-on Universe (GHOU) to create Gee Whiz Astronomy Exoplanet Hunters Clubs for middle and high school students from all over the world — a place for them to learn to learn image analysis and link to robotic telescopes to obtain images to analyse. I’m writing curriculum resources for Astronomy Modeling Workshops for teachers. I’m mentoring two PhD students (one at UniSQ) who are doing research related to Modeling Instruction. I have three National Science Foundation (NSF) grants to advance physics learning:
- To develop and deploy computational modelling for 9th grade physics
- To develop a smart phone app that uses augmented reality to visualise magnetic fields
- To develop a smart phone app that uses LiDAR to map motion.
I have an NSF proposal under consideration to scale up our Exoplanet Hunters Clubs in the US, to place powerful imaging telescopes (eVscopes) in the hands of informal science learning groups: Girl Scout groups, students and teachers, to provide leadership training and development to motivate interest and enthusiasm for advanced STEM studies and STEM careers.
- Astronomy Education