Before They Were Scientists: Holly Menninger

Not every scientist got their inspiration from their science classes — in fact many have gleaned inspiration from museums, family trips or extracurricular opportunities that they had when they were younger. Dr. Holly Menninger got her start in science communication speaking to groups of visitors at the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. While sitting down to talk to her about middle school, I noted a subtle Midwestern accent emerged as she excitedly described her experiences and reflected on time spent with her family and important mentors.

Lea: Tell me about your middle school setup to get us started.

Holly: I […]

By | January 9th, 2015|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

NestWatch Lesson Plan Now Available

Expanding on our work with Students Discover, we will be rolling out several new citizen science-based lesson plans over the next couple of months on our Education page. We’ve focused on global, long-running citizen science projects and have worked closely with educators to create lesson plans aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.

Our goals are simple:

  • Engage students in citizen science so they have opportunities to:
    • Participate in authentic scientific research.
    • Feel ownership over their learning.
    • Be part of a growing community of citizen scientists.
    • Improve scientific literacy by understanding the process of science rather than just memorizing facts or doing canned science experiments wherein we […]
By | December 15th, 2014|Education|2 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Corrie Moreau

Corrie Moreau grew up a city kid in the South. In middle school, she was on the dance team and marched in Mardi Gras parades while looking for ants in the cracks of the sidewalk outside her apartment. Read on to learn how she took her childhood love of ants and turned it into her full-time career, how she engages girls in science at The Field Museum and how her parents fostered confidence and creativity in her from a young age onward.

Lea: Where were you in middle school?

Corrie: I grew up in Louisiana. For me, the most awesome part […]

By | December 12th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|1 Comment

Engaging Students with eMammal

Check out this new video featuring Students Discover Kenan Fellow, Kelsie Armentrout, sharing her experiences about engaging students in science with eMammal camera traps! Inspired by her experience with the North Carolina Environmental Education program, she has continued to implement wildlife-based lessons in her classroom with eMammal. To find out more about becoming a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator, visit their website or watch the video below:

Video courtesy of North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate Program from North Carolina State Parks on Vimeo.

And if you’re a […]

By | December 9th, 2014|Education, Video|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Chris Schell

While interviewing scientists about their middle school lives, I often encounter a recurring them: scientists didn’t realize until they were much older that they could spend their lives researching something that fascinated them as a kid. They perceived the job of “scientist” as something held by dead and gone people from decades before. My hope is that these interviews serve as inspiration for students who would otherwise struggle to see themselves in the scientific field.

Today’s interview is with Chris Schell, a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology, who has already accomplished a lot in his early academic career. In middle […]

By | December 5th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

Apply to be a 2015-2016 Kenan Fellow

The application process for the 2015-2016 cohort of Kenan Fellows is now open!

Watch this video to see what being a part of the Students Discover project meant to our first cohort of scientists and teacher-scientists. Learn how the Students Discover project directly relates to what you can do in your classroom and meet some of the scientists you’d be working with!

By | November 24th, 2014|Education, Jobs, Video|0 Comments

Middle School Fossil Club Makes Real Discoveries

Recently, the buzz of excitement could be heard outside Exploris Middle School in downtown Raleigh. Members of the school’s Fossil Club, led by Students Discover 2014-2015 Kenan Fellow, Juliana Thomas, were sifting shark tooth fossils out of “fossil reject dirt” from the phosphate mine in Aurora, North Carolina.  I made my way, unnoticed, into the bustling room of 20 middle school students huddled over paper plates containing precious samples of shark teeth.

“I found another one!” exclaimed one student while holding up a miniscule, fossilized shark tooth from the sample in front of her. Another student proudly […]

By | November 12th, 2014|Education|2 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Randy Woodson

When I learned that North Carolina State University had a scientist as our Chancellor I made it my personal goal to tell his middle school story. Finally, after a year of conducting Before They Were Scientists interviews, I had my chance. I recently sat down with Chancellor Randy Woodson in his office overlooking the iconic NCSU Bell Tower. He started our conversation by opening a three-ring-binder and flipping through the exhaustive list of questions I had sent the week before to help him prepare, “I went through all the questions and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m […]

By | October 24th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|6 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Doug Emlen

I recently sat down with evolutionary biologist Dr. Doug Emlen when he was in town to give a seminar at NC State. We met at the Hunt Library, and after testing out a few of their famous chairs, we settled in for an interview that took us around the world. Read on to learn how Doug spent the first six months of sixth grade in Kenya with his dad studying birds, got singled out in science class and learned early on in his academic career that he would never be Indiana Jones.

Lea: We’re thinking about middle school — what’s […]

By | October 17th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|1 Comment

Students Discover Celebrates National Fossil Day!

To celebrate, we here at Student’s Discover, and especially me the resident paleontologist, want to give a quick update on the incredible results that middle school kids have already made on the Shark Teeth Forensics project through the Paleontology and Geology lab at the Nature Research Center, NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

First, I need to give a huge “Wow, I’m impressed” to the three Kenan Fellows teachers working on this project (Kimberly, Kerrie, Juliana) because they’ve transformed their middle school classrooms into real deal research teams. And second, I need to shout […]

By | October 15th, 2014|Education|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Jonathan Bujak

Dr. Jonathan Bujak (on the right in the photo above) had a reputation for causing trouble, one that started on his first day of school. Read on to learn how doing a little better in chemistry helped him survive the 1960s, how chance played a very special role in his life, and how finding a fern in an Arctic ocean sediment core completely changed the trajectory of his career.

Lea: How about you tell me a little bit about where you were in middle school between the ages of 10 and 14?

Jonathan: I was in a town called Blackpool, a […]

By | October 10th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|3 Comments

Students Discover Goes to Washington

Members of the Students Discover team recently visited the Nation’s Capital to present at the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) Washington Symposium. This conference highlighted university, college, and community programs that are incorporating STEM education into real world applications. We were invited to speak about Students Discover and shared our experiences passionately. As part of this conference, we also met with Representative David Price of North Carolina’s 4th district to talk about our work and discuss the successes of the Students Discover program to date.

Liz Baird, Director of Education at the North […]

By | October 7th, 2014|Education, News|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Anne Madden

Interviewing Anne Madden was both enlightening and entertaining, I’ve never before wished that a recorder would break so I could repeat an interview — it was that much fun. Anne is a postdoctoral researcher — an early career scientist — and yet her life experiences and work in industry prior to graduate school have given her a very nuanced and intriguing perspective on science. Read on to learn about how her clinically diagnosed phobia of middle school did not stop her from achieving academic success, how the artist and the scientist are almost indistinguishable, and how high heels and […]

By | October 3rd, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|2 Comments

Ant Picnic in Pennsylvania

**This is a guest post written by NC State undergraduate, Ryan Pileski. Ryan collaborated with Lea Shell to adapt the Ant Picnic lesson plan, an investigation of ant diet, nutrition and diversity, for implementation at a summer camp serving students with social disorders. Their goal was to modify the lesson plan to allow success for students with attention issues and social concerns in a summer camp scenario.**

Students attending Summit Camp in Pennsylvania participated in Ant Picnic over a two week period this summer. The campers, ages 10-21, come from all over the United States and have a […]

By | September 29th, 2014|ants, Education|1 Comment

Before They Were Scientists: Julie Hecht

Julie Hecht began our interview by admitting she was nervous because, to her, middle school was horribly awkward. I assured her that she would never have to go back, but just had to share a few memories with me. Our interview, punctuated by lots of laughter, reinforced that even if you’re not into science as a middle school student, it doesn’t mean that you won’t end up a scientist. Learn how she eventually found her way into researching human’s best friend after being obsessed with Archie Comics, her dead end (pun intended, wait for it) career as a thespian, […]

By | September 26th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|1 Comment