GK-12 Fellows for 2013-2014

On June 24, 2013 by Grad Forum
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Molly Carpenter, a former GK-12 fellow, with 10th grade science students in Woodstock, Vermont.

GK-12 is a national program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It supports training for graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to improve their communication and teaching skills working with students in grades K-12. Here at Dartmouth, the GK-12 program is designed to train graduate students in teaching, learning, communication, assessment, and creativity through a one-year program, during which they work with teachers in local schools in grades 6-10 developing lessons that foster imagination and communication.

Molly Carpenter, a current chemistry PhD candidate working with Dr. Dean Wilcox and studying the interactions of essential and toxic metals with metal-binding human proteins, is a former GK-12 fellow who taught 10th grade science in Woodstock, Vermont this past year. She was able to design a learning program that featured fun and engaging science lessons, such as a mock forensic investigation in which the students gathered and analyzed evidence and formed a conclusion as to how a crime took place. Through the GK-12 program, Carpenter was able to develop her ability to manage time, and to think and speak on her feet. As a welcome surprise, Carpenter found that doing something creative also improved her bench work—having one creative outlet gives other pursuits a boost in productivity.

This year’s GK-12 fellows are also enthusiastic to be able to share their knowledge with today’s youth, and to get them excited about science. Samantha Roberts, who works with Dr. Amy Gladfelter, studies a fungus that has many nuclei that all behave differently from one another. She is trying to determine how the organization of the cytoplasm of a cell plays a role in the behavior of an individual nucleus in its cell cycle in communication to the neighboring nuclei. She remarks that she wants to experience that “aha” moment with the students. Having grown up attending a small Vermont school, she feels she will be able to communicate and relate to these students and effectively convince them to pursue opportunities of higher learning.

Erek Alper, who will be studying habitable zones around stars with Dr. Brian Chaboyer, really just wants to “Bill Nye” the kids—that is, he wishes to teach them really awesome science and leave a lasting impression that will hopefully encourage them to think about a future in the field. He wants to give them the knowledge that he never had when he was their age. Mackenzie Jones, who will be researching extragalactic astronomy with Dr. Ryan Hickox, agrees that one of the most rewarding aspects about being able to have this opportunity to teach younger children is that you get to see their faces light up when they become excited about learning.

The full list of Dartmouth GK-12 fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year is as follows:

Erek Alper (physics and astronomy)

Tim Brunelle (psychological and brain sciences)

Katie Duryea (biology)

Zeb Engberg (mathematics)

Mackenzie Jones (physics and astronomy)

Katie Kinnaird (mathematics)

Laura Levy (earth sciences)

Samantha Roberts (biology)

Simone Whitecloud (biology)

STEM graduate students in any year can apply, but participants must be in at least their second year of graduate studies when participating. For information on how to apply, please contact Cindy Tobery. The 2014-2015 academic year is the last year that GK-12 will be funded nationally, so start thinking about applying for next year!

Good luck to all the GK-12 fellows for this upcoming academic year!

by Molly Croteau

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