February 28, 2017 - Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library, Rice University
Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since the second world war. In doing so, scientists and science educators have gained the respect of the public through their competence, but have we gained their trust? In general scientists, as a group, are not seen as warm or approachable, but perceived as argumentative with little interest in understanding the nuance or context. This trustworthiness gap is magnified, when politicians develop a similar attitude toward science and scientists. These attitudes, in turn, impact large scale and important decisions about science and basic research and can directly affect the public well-being, from the growth of our economy, to public health, to the education of our young people.
In this talk, we will explore where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is today, the future of STEM education, and how we can engage both the general public and policy makers in rational dialogue around the role and importance of STEM education. Examples of empowering citizens and, most importantly, youth in engaging the public in scientific dialogue will be discussed.
Biography of Michael Barnett
Dr. Barnett is an internationally recognized, award winning (2012 CASE Professor of the Year) expert in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education with a research focus on teaching science to students in urban areas. He uses innovative tools such as indoor hydroponic vertical farms to teach K-12 students to grow vegetables and sell their own produce at local farmer’s markets. Through this seed to market experience, students learn topics such as environmental science, engineering, botany, nutrition, sustainability and economics.
A self-described “recovering astrophysicist” from Kentucky, he caught the teaching bug when he was tapped to teach a lesson about the moon to “immensely inquisitive fifth-graders” while he was working on his PhD in astrophysics. He went on to earn a doctorate in instructional systems technology with an emphasis in science education from Indiana University. His students describe him as a “rock star” and “the most genuinely inspiring role model of effective instruction” because of his deep passion for educating people on how to teach science.