Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: Bioanthropology
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, Gen Science, and Health (MS and HS)
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
Current academic or teaching status:
Fifth year MAT, student-teaching
School and school district:
Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy, Woodburn, OR
I grew up in a small town in Southern Oregon, spending most of my time in the woods or at the river searching for bugs, reptiles, and the ever illusive Bigfoot. I graduated high school a year early and, not knowing exactly what I wanted to “be”, attended the nearby community college for the next two years. Upon graduation, I moved to Eugene and enrolled at the University of Oregon for another three years, studying biology, anthropology, art, and outdoor education. I graduated in 2006 and spent the next six years working odd jobs just long enough to afford to travel. When I got married in 2010, I decided it was time to actually plan ahead beyond the next fun trip. I decided to become a teacher.
Why do you want to teach:
The choice to become a teacher was not easy. I spent years agonizing over what career would be best for me. I wanted to do something meaningful. I believe every person has a responsibility to use their unique skills, knowledge, and talents to positively impact society and the world in which they live. With that in mind, I eliminated options motivated by monetary gains or by how much fun they could offer; i.e. selfish choices. I would no longer entertain the possibility of becoming a Hollywood stuntman or a stock broker. Teaching science was the perfect fit. I love thinking and talking about science, but scientific literacy also represents hope for the future. The planet is facing tremendous threats from pollution, deforestation, over population, and disease. If future generations are able to understand these circumstances and the choices that impact the planet, that would be the first step required to lead us to a brighter future. My goal in teaching science is not only to stimulate curiosity and independent lifelong learning, but also to contribute to a generation of active citizen scientists that will a represent much-needed shift in the course of this country and the world.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
As part of a digestive system unit, I demonstrated the amount of sugar in one can of Coke. The class had previously learned about essential nutrients and how to obtain them, including what is not required in a diet (excess sugar). Because soda is only a beverage, people often misunderstand what they are actually consuming and consider it an acceptable supplement to any meal. I gathered the class around a table with the can of coke, a scale, and sugar. I first asked them how much sugar they would put in their coffee if they liked it sweet, most said two or three teaspoons. I then asked how much they thought was in the can of Coke, most said three or four. I then began to add sugar to the scale one small scoop at a time until I reached 39 grams; a shockingly large pile of more than 10 teaspoons. Nearly every student stared bug-eyed with a gaping jaw. They were blown away! It’s rare to impress or shock a class of teenagers. When it happens, you know they’ve learned something valuable; something they won’t soon forget. This was the first time I had ever seen a reaction like that so widespread. I know at least some of those students will cut back on their soda consumption, and many will tell their friends or family about the demonstration. It felt good to teach content that will not only stick with them, but will actually improve their lives, if even in a small way.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The Noyce program has meant two things to me: it has provided me some validation that I do have the potential to become a good teacher and it has removed the guilt and burden that further student debt would press upon me. I am able to concentrate on my work and develop my practice without worrying about the tens of thousands of dollars it would have otherwise cost me, assuming I could have even enrolled in the my program without the scholarship.