Science Saturdays

Ott Planetarium is hosting Science Saturday again this coming weekend, April 12, from Noon – 5:00 PM in the Lind Lecture Hall here at Weber State.  Free planetarium shows, fun hands-on activities, and open doors at the Museum.  I have it on good authority that we’ll have biology students and members of science teaching club mentoring families on various bugs.  If we’re lucky, you can even train termites.  (I’m not kidding — it’s marvelous to see.)

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that this may be our last Science Saturday for a while as we brace ourselves for construction.  The upper floor of the Lind Lecture building is getting a small facelift so that we can make better use of classrooms.  This is important so that we can get some elbow room while we’re waiting for the new science building.  It’s still a little painful, though.  Get in some fun science this weekend, and then look ahead to a summer with some camps and parks activities.

summer preview

The official start of spring is just a couple days away.  For us, that means it’s time to start thinking about summer.  We have lots of behind-the-scenes projects, as well as some campus construction that should be taking place.  It keeps us on our toes, especially since we’re not even sure where our offices are going to be while classrooms get renovated and some office space starts to get carved out around us.  We’ll just duck and cover while buildings are demolished to make way for the new Tracy Hall Science Center – our new home in just two years!

In the midst of this, we’re happy to announce that we’ve scheduled some of our favorite programs for summer 2014.

Science in the Parks will run again with the same progression of Ogden City Parks, through a partnership with Ogden School District’s free lunch program.  We’ll be visiting the following locations in Ogden:

June 9 – 13: Lorin Farr Park
June 16 – 20: Liberty Park
June 23 – 27: Monroe Park
June 30 – July 3: Mt. Ogden Park
July 7 – 11: Jaycee Park
July 14 – 18: West Ogden Park

Each weekday of each week (with the exception of Independence Day) we will have free activities for all ages from 11:30 to 1:00; and, each day of the week has its own special theme.  You can come to the same park for an entire week and get completely different science activities each day.  See our Parks page for more information.  Stay tuned to this blog for updates — just subscribe in the box at the right.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that Arts in the Park will visit the same locations.  They’ll be at each of these parks the week before us.

In addition, we’re delighted to announce our second year of science camps!.  We’ll run two different camps in June, and each camp will be offered twice.  Registration will be available soon and announced here.  In addition, if we can find space to run any other camps in July, we’ll try to do that as well.  For now, we have to hunker down and see what spaces are going to be available.

There are some other fun projects taking place, including an Advanced Physics Course for teachers;  a trip to Yellowstone National Park with some local high school students, teachers, and faculty; and perhaps another workshop if we can fit it in.

More to follow, soon!

growing collaborations

We’re pleased that we get to share things through a variety of outlets.  In the last year or so we have been fortunate to have a partner in the Natural History Museum of Utah through their “Teaching Toolboxes.”  (When you picture a “toolbox,” you need to picture the very largest contractor-grade toolbox you can imagine, filled with something like a collection of rocks and minerals, or dinosaur fossils, or field tools, or …. )  We provide an outlet for teachers to borrow these toolboxes right here from the CSME at Weber State.  This is great because teachers in northern Utah have greater access to a collection of these kits, as well as the fact that we get to play with them.

Last week we expanded our partnerships to work with Red Butte Garden when they delivered their Ethnobotany Bin: People and Plants, packaged in much the same way that NHMU configures its kits.  This one is jam packed with planet samples pressed in dedicated cases, as well as a variety of tools and a diverse set of lesson plans.  We can imagine this being used in lots of classes, but perhaps it is most especially catered to 4th grade classrooms since there is a focus on native plants and their uses within our state through its rich history.

To check out this or any of our kits, visit this page with the checkout form.  We love to see these resources get used.  And, stay tuned as we get ready to release another very exciting toolbox in the very near future.

seeking new direction

The Center for Science and Math Education is currently seeking applications for a new, full time, Director.  This is exciting for us, since we have not had a dedicated position like this for several years, instead using faculty reassignments to partially cover some of the work that goes on here.  With this new position, the CSME will be able to reestablish its operating capacity, as well as expand in the future.  The new director should have a doctorate in science or math education (or a closely related field) and should be interested in:

  • working with faculty here at Weber State, such as an assembly of College of Science faculty who advise and work closely with the CSME.  This is especially the case with our science teacher educator (Adam Johnston, currently stretching his position from physics to cover some CSME tasks … such as writing this post), our brand new math education faculty member (Rachel Bachman), our planetarium director (Stacy Palen, physics), and others who advise preservice teachers and work with inservice teachers during the school year and summers.
  • working with local school districts and teachers, especially those in northern Utah.  We currently work with two districts as we pilot professional development aimed at revamping science curricula; and we’re actively pursuing scholarships and ongoing professional support for brand new teachers.
  • working with leaders across the state to promote and enhance science and math education at all levels.  Our CSME has a long history of working closely with other state agencies, including our state office of education.

And, there are many other possibilities and ongoing collaborations, as searching this webpage should suggest.  Scholarly and grant writing activities, as well as community outreach, all play well with our current collection of activities and our ambitions for the future.

The full ad, list of qualifications, and instructions for applicants, is here:

jobs.weber.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=58165

Our initial review of applicants begins as soon as January 17th.  Questions or clarifications are welcome.  Contact Adam Johnston (ajohnston@weber.edu) for more information.

Faraday Lectures

This past weekend I was working with some 5th-grade teachers on electricity and magnetism, and one of the great scientists that we invoke is Michael Faraday.  The electricity you use on a daily basis that magically comes out of those outlets in your home is all a result of Faraday’s law of induction, the principle behind the generation of electrical energy from some kind of motion energy.  (Around here, most of that comes from coal burning to boil some water and turn a turbine.)  Beyond this, Faraday was known for his ability to understand and communicate science, and his tradition of bringing science demonstrations to the public was unrivaled.  The Faraday Christmas Lectures that he initiated in 1826 became an annual tradition.

We’re lucky to have a new university president, Chuck Wight, who is continuing this lecture tradition, together with our Chemistry Department, here at Weber State.  While this has been hosted at the University of Utah for many years when President Wight worked as a chemist and administrator there, the tradition is now brought here to our university.   The CSME has no hand in this, but we’re confident that everyone should go.  The event is hosted in Lind Lecture Hall 225/226 this coming Monday and Tuesday (December 16 and 17) evening, starting at 7:00 PM.  Link here for more information.  We hope to see you there!