Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Natural Science
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
U of Missouri Kansas City (KC-TEACH)
Current academic or teaching status:
Professional year of post-baccalaureate secondary program
School and school district:
Paseo Academy of the Arts, Kansas City, MO
In pursuit of a medical degree, I earned my BA in Natural Sciences at Bethel College in Kansas. I spent a lot of my time there conducting psychology of music research, for which I received special recognition. After graduating, I got married and spent two years working with medical research in Wichita. We then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where my son was born. My special interests remained broad, and in medical school I discovered that medicine was too specialized for me. I have always been a scientist at heart, and I want to spend my days revealing to others how and why things work.
Why do you want to teach:
Science is instinctive. Infants experiment with their environment as soon as they’re able to manipulate it. They like to learn, and they learn best by interacting with their surroundings. In other words, science is play, and infants like to play. This applies to high school students as well. Of course, play may not yield lasting benefits like knowledge and skills without proper guidance. I want to provide that guidance. Science is also about skepticism and discovery, which are themes of adolescence as well. High school is a formative time in which students are trying to decide for themselves whom and what to believe, just like professional research scientists. I want to teach them the critical thinking skills necessary to distinguish signal from noise.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
I don’t have much teaching experience yet, so I’ll share an influential experience from when I was in high school. As a freshman in my first biology class, my instructor brought in liquid nitrogen. Condensation seeped from the container like something from a science fiction movie. He showed that extremely low temperatures can cause a rubber ball to shatter instead of bounce. His grand finale was what really etched this experience into my memory. He submerged a live goldfish into this mysterious liquid for a few seconds, removed it, showing that it was frozen solid, and then dropped it back into its bowl of room-temperature water. As the fish thawed, it came back to life and swam happily around in its bowl. This raised so many questions for me: Does it matter how long the fish is submerged? What other animals can survive this? Can you do this at home in the freezer? Why or why not? Is there a good, practical reason to do this in the “real world” (outside of the classroom) other than the fact that it’s amazing? By inducing this curiosity, my instructor made me, the student, want to be taught, which probably made teaching easier and more fun for him.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
It reminds me that I am not alone in my love of science, that there are students whose formative years may lack the influence of a strong science role model, and that I have a responsibility to go where my skills are needed most.