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Education

Fall 2011

Creature crossings: A lesson in teaching the nature of science

How quickly can you determine which expression most accurately describes the animated interaction below? (click the play button to start; rewind button to restart)

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But not so fast… (click for more)

Whereas the 1 + 1 = 1 may be the obvious answer in expressing the interaction, 1 + 1 = 2 is equally valid given possible alternative explanations: Does the larger “creature” carry away the smaller creature as its young? Or maybe the smaller creature … » More …

Fall 2011

Rhonda Kromm ’86, ’05

Rhonda Kromm wouldn’t let car problems keep her from going to college. Since her old vehicle wouldn’t make the drive from Moses Lake, she hitchhiked to Spokane and hiked up the hill to Spokane Community College to enroll. Then she hiked back down the hill to find another ride home.

She wouldn’t let money hold her back, either. With an AA degree completed, Kromm took a year off from school to save up. Then she moved to Colfax, spent mornings taking classes at WSU’s Pullman campus and afternoons coaching at Jennings Elementary. She finished her degree in education in 1986 and that summer moved with … » More …

Fall 2011

Cross-cultural pen pals

One morning this spring a group of WSU students from Jeff Petersen’s Communication Studies 321 class fills half of a small lecture hall at Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. They have traveled here from Pullman to meet their pen pals, 5th through 8th graders from the Nespelem Elementary School on the Colville Reservation in north-central Washington. Though they have been communicating with the grade-schoolers by letters throughout the semester, they are meeting for the first time to visit, “play” with science, and talk about going to college.

The Center for Civic Engagement at WSU started the pen pal project last fall. As a part of its mission, … » More …

Fall 2011

Some of the most important things your science teacher taught you are wrong

There’s the science most of us learned as kids. Then there’s the science that scientists actually do.

The K-12 variety is more like a cooking class, but with chemicals, goggles, an occasional Erlenmeyer flask, the unforgettable smell of formaldehyde, and nothing you would want to eat. There, the scientific method is reduced to the formula of a lab report: hypothesize, test, gather data, evaluate, conclude, generally along the lines the teacher told you to expect.

Outside the classroom, science has over the centuries spawned revolutionary advances in knowledge and well-being. But in the classroom it’s, what? Predictable. Formulaic. Boring. All of the above.

Judy Morrison, … » More …

Summer 2011

A plan for Washington

In 1972, as Scott Carson was preparing to graduate from Washington State University, a counselor told him he was still six credits shy of his degree. The Vietnam veteran was astonished. “He said I had to complete these physical education credits.”

Carson had already attended several semesters of community college, was married, had served his country, and had only budgeted for two years in Pullman to finish his business degree. That a handful of phys. ed. credits stood in the way of his degree seemed absurd.

But the counselor was unwavering. Carson took it to the department head, who insisted that it was a state … » More …

Spring 2011

George Nethercutt Jr. ’67—Knowing our nation

George Nethercutt Jr. ’67 may not be in Congress anymore, but he still yearns to shorten the distance between Washington, D.C., and his home state of Washington.

The effort has kept the Spokane native busy since he left the House of Representatives in 2005, when he transformed a project from his office into the George Nethercutt Foundation, a nonprofit organization to promote civic literacy and foster leadership qualities.

“We as Americans just don’t know the story of our country. And it troubles me. As a citizen, it bothers me,” says Nethercutt as we meet one afternoon last fall in Seattle, where he’s visiting on business. … » More …

Winter 2003

Philip Phibbs's legacy

“No decisions are easy, particularly when you are a university president and you are changing an institution.” —Philip Phibbs

More than a decade removed from the presidency of the University of Puget Sound, Philip M. Phibbs remembers the job as tough and demanding. But he loved it.

Many decisions he made, he acknowledges now, were difficult. They affected academic programs and peoples’ lives. Through it all, he’s confident the UPS is better today for his efforts.

Phibbs shared thoughts about his presidency during a late April visit to Washington State University. He and Gwen, his wife of 49 years, returned to Pullman to celebrate the … » More …

Winter 2003

Benzel helped set state education reform in motion

Brian Benzel embraces the challenge of helping every child master key educational skills. As superintendent of Spokane Area Schools, the second largest school district in Washington, he oversees a $264 million annual budget, more than 30,000 students, 3,500 employees, and 50 schools.

“I’m excited about what we’re trying to do with education in Spokane, in the state, and in America,” he said earlier this year from his downtown office.

“Clearly society has moved to a place where high school [education] alone is not sufficient today. It’s stated as a goal for the country that all children should be able to master those core skills—math, reading, … » More …

Fall 2003

Learning through collaborative research

In the world of research things aren’t always what they seem, or are supposed to be. Psychology students at Washington State University learned that last spring while working together, interpreting data, and writing up results. At an undergraduate research symposium in April, a dozen student presenters used large poster boards to explain their semester-long projects. Seven of the 12 received small research grants.

The purpose of the one-day symposium was to “encourage hands-on, face-to-face learning though collaborative research between psychology majors and faculty mentors,” says coordinator Samantha Swindell, who oversees undergraduate instruction in psychology at WSU.

The projects were varied. Some used animals in fundamental … » More …

Winter 2006

John Gross: Walking in both worlds

During his nearly two decades as a forester, there were days when John Gross would gladly have traded jobs with his wife, a teacher.

Yet, after he realized his dream and started teaching in 1997, he would occasionally find himself glancing out the classroom window during a math or state history lesson, longing to be tromping through the woods again.

When Gross (’77 Forest Mgt., Bus.) gave up his first professional passion, forestry, to indulge a long-growing love of teaching, he made the type of trade-off many people face during their careers. But it’s a sacrifice he no longer shoulders. Three years ago, he started … » More …