Teaching & Outreach
I strongly feel that science done without effective communication to non-scientists and the surrounding community often neglects to convey the importance (and excitement!) of research findings to those who could benefit most. As is such, teaching and community outreach constitute a large component of my "science agenda". As an undergraduate geology major at the College of Charleston, I was given the opportunity to assist in teaching geology labs and found that I relished the challenge of translating complex geologic concepts into easily tangible pieces. Watching the light bulb turn on when students experienced the “ah ha!” moment or piquing the interest of the student who was ‘just taking this class to get my science credit over with’ was always incredibly rewarding and exciting (especially since I started out as one of those ‘let’s just get the science credit done with’ students).
Since then, I have developed and instructed both graduate and undergraduate level university courses and currently work with the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and the Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth (middle and high school level). Between the culmination of my Masters and the onset of my Ph.D. , I spent two years teaching high school math, science, and Spanish at a local school in the Virgin Islands and have never found anything more rewarding. Motivated by the desire to bring the excitement of science to non-traditional audiences, I have pursued opportunities to work with low income and minority students to increase STEM participation and interest in achieving advanced degrees, developed curricula tailored to students with disabilities, and created environmental science lab activities in Spanish to engage non-native English speakers.
In 2016 I was honored to receive the Vanderbilt University Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Teaching Award for my work developing and teaching laboratory and field courses with the Vanderbilt University Earth and Environmental Sciences program. Course I have taught or developed include: Global Climate Change, Dynamic Earth, Paleontology, Dinosaurs, History of Life, Science Risk and Policy, Principles of Historical Geology, and Environmental Studies. My courses are designed not to facilitate the robotic nature of having students take information in and regurgitate what has been memorized but rather to challenge students think critically about what they are learning. There aren’t always right answers, but being able to explain why and how you came to a conclusion is a valuable life skill both in and out of the classroom.
As an educator, I am constantly reminded how essential it is to share resources with fellow teachers. If you would like copies of any of the labs or lectures I have developed, please contact me. I’m more than happy to share! Below is a list of educational resources and activities I have found quite useful.
- Nature article on active learning in the science classroom
- Geologic Animations by Tanya Atwater
- Science Education Resource Center
- National Geographic Teaching Resources
- Ecological Society of America
- Geological Society of America
- UC Berkeley
- National Science Teachers Association
- EDtech: Teaching Science with Technology
- Vanderbilt Center for Teaching