Do you have a science student with an interest in biotechnology, invention, and making a positive difference in the world? Encourage them to apply to this unique, no-cost, virtual program that connects students from different backgrounds and challenges them to develop interest, confidence and capabilities in STEM. Biotech in Action is a collaboration between the Biogen company and the nonprofit Lemelson MIT program. Labster is proud to sponsor the science simulations for Biotech in Action. In this episode, we reflect on the impact of two years of the Biotech in Action program with two faculty members, Nia Gipson of the Lemelson MIT program and Alex Cameron of the Biogen Community Lab, as well as Dr. Stephanie Couch, the executive director of the Lemelson MIT program,. Biotech in Action is open for applications. As Nia Gipson says, “Take a chance, you might just learn something.” Students can register for free at https://lemelson.mit.edu/biotech-action.
In part two of our conversation with Dr. Lori Banks, she tells us why making sure that students feel welcome in the lab is a prerequisite to preparing them for careers in science. Her own experience as a student convinced Lori of one thing: her role as an educator is to build self-confidence as much as it is to teach them biology. And for Lori, creating a “nerd army” that will change the world means teaching beyond the textbook, including the use of learning technology like Labster in her program at Bates College.
We discuss what the liberal arts have to offer students majoring in the sciences in this first part of a special two-part episode with Dr. Lori Banks. We’ll hear about Lori’s project to develop a “cultural cheat sheet” to help first-gen students prepare for the culture of graduate school. In 2020, Dr. Lori Banks was named to a list of 1000 inspiring black scientists by Cell Mentor. She is an assistant professor of biology at Bates College, where she dedicates her teaching to instilling a love of biology and actively works to embrace pedagogies of equity, inclusion and anti-racism.
Are you looking for practical ideas from master teachers about how to integrate Labster into your high school course plan? You can use this episode as a resource for thinking and talking about professional development coaching with your district administrators. SJ and Carlin, a returning friend of the podcast, speak with Liz Russillo about what to expect from PD workshops and one-on-one coaching. Liz is the 2020 Teacher of the Year for the state of Rhode Island as well as an instructional coach at BetterLesson, which provides PD for high school science educators who teach with Labster.
Having a faculty mentor can make a world of difference to a student looking for guidance on how to pursue a career in STEM. In this episode, we’ll get to speak with Professor Lucia Santacruz of Bowie State University who combines her love of teaching with her passion for mentoring her students. Lucia shares her thoughts about how faculty mentors can help their students find the right path to a rewarding STEM career. This is especially important guidance if a well-meaning parent is pressuring their STEM student to become a doctor without exploring other options! SJ and Lucia close the session with a reflection on how mentoring can help close the diversity gap in STEM.
With undergraduate science degrees now requiring up to 5-6 years of on-campus time to complete, how can a nontraditional student with a job and family ever achieve a bachelor’s degree and get ahead at work? Professor Jennifer C. Bobenko suggests it’s time for a paradigm shift she’s calls Multistream Education. Jennifer, a professor of biochemistry and chair of IRB at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, thinks nontraditional students should be able to graduate in just a few years, and she knows how to get it done. In this thought provoking episode, she shares her vision for Multistream Education as a partnership between traditional degree-granting universities, MOOCs, industry, and virtual lab providers like Labster.
The importance of providing guidance, mentoring, and opportunities to network drive the conversation in this second part of our special two-part episode with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Brianna explains how her alma mater, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, has successfully helped her to stay motivated to reach her bold goals. Cord tells a personal story about how important it was that one of his own professors expressed a personal interest in him, and how he now works to help his students to take inspiration from a diverse group of STEM professionals he invites into his classroom.
In part one of this special two-part episode, SJ chats with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Cord and Brianna share their experiences teaching and learning at Fisk University, a well-known HBCU in Nashville, TN. They discuss their passion for STEM education, the importance of Fisk’s history, and how much representation matters.
If you’re here to ask Dr. Karen Vignare to recommend “the right learning tool”, take a number. In this episode, she highlights the findings of her research into using adaptive courseware as part of a student-first approach to instruction. So what can educators do to support more students to succeed in gateway courses? Spoiler alert: it takes more than just buying the right tool.
Not every chemistry educator starts college knowing they'll have a career in STEM - some stumble upon their calling. That was the case for Dr. Melody Esfandiari, who shares her story and her personal commitment to supporting other women in science at the beginning of this episode. Always curious, Melody wanted to find out whether her Introductory Chemistry students felt prepared to conduct experiments in a real wet lab after learning with Labster virtual labs. So, she conducted her own research, comparing grades as well as students' self-reported data about their learning experience. You'll hear Melody's findings and find out what surprised her most.
Who did faculty members turn to for support when Zoom suddenly became the de facto medium for teaching? At the 23 universities within the Cal State system, it was the members of the Academic Technology Services department. They worked overtime to train faculty members in how to bring their labs, lectures, and assessments online. So how did these academic technologists do it? And what will happen to their digital learning initiatives when in-person classes safely resume? In this episode, you’ll hear from two guests who have the answers: Dr. Leslie Kennedy, senior director of Academic Technology Services at The California State University in the Office of the Chancellor, and Shaidy Ruiz, Communications Analyst in the Department of Academic Technology Services.
How do students learn from a simulation? Is it when they are engaged in the experience? When they prepare for it? The answer is neither, according to Dr. Amber Kool. Her dissertation research revealed that students learn most when they debrief and reflect on their simulation learning experience. In this episode, Kool shares her thoughts on best practices for teaching virtual lab simulations. Kool is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona College of Nursing, where her students will use Labster as part of their post-Covid return to face-to-face and hybrid learning.
How can a university fulfill its commitment to make STEM for All a reality? In Part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Sophia Rahming, she describes an innovative strategy used by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Florida State University to empower undergraduate Learning Assistants to partner with graduate Teaching Assistants and course faculty so that first and second year students have what they need to succeed in gateway STEM courses.
Does geography determine who gets to learn science? Who does science belong to? In this episode, we discuss Dr. Sophia Rahming’s provocative research around the structural biases and barriers to studying science and the need for culturally responsive science education. Dr. Rahming is an Associate Director in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Florida State University and is researching the experiences of Afro-Caribbean women in STEM in the United States.
With classes still remote due to COVID, Biology professors Selinda Martinez and Julie Kelley have an honest discussion about the experience of teaching diverse students in asynchronous online courses. We’ll explore their ideas for creating a shared sense of community among their online students at Laredo College in Texas.
"Are you struggling with the fear of trying something new in your classroom? In Part Two of our conversation, Professors Felicia Vulcu and Cailtin Mullarkey talk about their belief that creating a safe and nurturing culture within a classroom community permits both students and teachers to take risks and innovate. We also discuss their favorite edtech tools for biochemistry courses, valuable takeaways from pandemic teaching, and their ideas to quickly train students with hands-on, tactile lab skills when in-person learning resumes at McMaster University."
“Are you teaching both online and in-person these days? Biochemistry professors Felicia Vulcu and Caitlin Mullarkey of McMaster University explain how they teach with Labster using any course delivery format. When Felicia has a face-to-face course, she plays Labster simulations right along with her 160 students as a pre-lab exercise. When Caitlin teaches a 600-student online course, her students use Labster at the end of a module as a way of applying concepts they’ve been learning. Felicia and Caitlin both encourage their students to play Labster as many times as they want in order to master the simulations, and they count their students’ highest Labster quiz scores for grading purposes.”
“Are you a science teacher who wants to motivate and engage students with gamified learning while still maintaining academic rigor? We’ll dive into Labster’s learning objectives, use of embedded quizzes, and story-driven missions. SJ tackles techniques for learning with virtual labs and answers the question 'is Labster a game or is Labster a serious learning tool?'”
“If you’re curious about what a virtual lab simulation is and how to make it accessible to all students, start with this episode. SJ breaks down Labster’s journey toward inclusive design and shares what you can expect from Labster’s accessibility features and diverse character catalog. Need ideas for how to embed virtual labs within your curriculum? SJ offers some best practices starting with checking for access needs and surrounding the lab with supportive activities.”
The Labster Podcast gives science educators like you a chance to hear from peers who teach with Labster’s virtual labs and other educational technologies. We’ll reflect on learning and curriculum design, and leave you feeling inspired and energized about reaching and teaching your students.
Wondering how virtual labs can help your students (and you!) make the most of your time in the real lab? Curious about whether virtual labs can help your students visualize abstract concepts and have their own lightbulb moments? Labster’s own Carlin Robinson addresses lots of your FAQs about teaching high school science with virtual labs.
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