02/26/18

UM-Flint Math class partners with DDA for survey on downtown Flint

Laura McLeman, associate professor of UM-Flint Mathematics, is taking an interactive approach to her Introduction to Statistics course (MTH 272) by incorporating a special class project: her students  are working with Flint’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to create and circulate a survey that will help them better understand users’ interactions in downtown Flint.

Laura McLeman, associate professor of UM-Flint Mathematics (front right) with some of her MTH 272 students

Laura McLeman, associate professor of UM-Flint Mathematics (front right) with some of her MTH 272 students

The statistics course is a requirement for McLeman’s secondary teacher’s certificate program (TCP) students who will go on to teach math to high schoolers. As part of UM-Flint’s education program, the course reflects the TCP’s place-based approach that regularly connects coursework and teaching practices with partners and projects in the community. The approach allows UM-Flint students opportunities to experience teaching, working with diverse groups, and finding community partners they can impact and that can be impacted by their classrooms.

Students work through a problem in MTH 272 with Laura McLeman of UM-Flint Mathematics.

McLeman considers the survey to be a unifying project for this semester’s class, nothing that the students were enthusiastic about it from day one. They’ve been the driving force behind the nature of the project, she added. The survey will help the DDA and downtown businesses learn about community member experiences; its results should be helpful in future grant writing and business planning.

Students in UM-Flint's MTH 272 class

Students in UM-Flint’s MTH 272 class

Once the survey is closed, the class will use their statistics methods to analyze the data; the results will be included in a written report and executive summary that they present to the DDA in April. The class will also participate in a reflective exercise in which they consider how well their survey worked, whether it served the needs of their community partner, and whether it provided the data they were after.

For McLeman, the project is a perfect example of place-based learning: it utilizes the content her students need to learn, while providing a meaningful service and getting her students interacting with the community. “As future secondary math teachers, and community stewards, it is important to me that my students experience how community needs and classroom curricular needs can come together in partnership,” noted McLeman. “Essentially, I want my students to see how all of the seemingly disparate topics they are learning in this statistics course come together in meaningful and impactful ways.”


For more information on UM-Flint Math, visit umflint.edu/math; to learn about the education programs at UM-Flint, visit umflint.edu/teach.

11/2/17

Faculty Spotlight: Katherine Eaton of Science Education

Katherine Eaton joined the UM-Flint College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2017 as an assistant professor of science education.

Katherine Eaton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Science Education at UM-Flint

Katherine Eaton, Assistant Professor of Science Education at UM-Flint

Read below to learn more about Katherine and how she’s educating future science teachers, or join her in one of her Winter 2018 classes:

  • EDE 344: Teaching Science, in Elementary/Middle School
    (held Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.)
  • SCI 125-02: Scientific Inquiry I
    (held Monday/Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.-4:50 p.m.)

Students can register at sis.umflint.edu or find more information about upcoming semesters at umflint.edu/register.

Students can also find Katherine at one of her Fall 2017 Coffee Chats:

November 2017 — Tips and practice for MTTC-Science items!
Thursday, November 16  |  5-6 p.m.  |  CSEP Conference Room, 215 MSB
Monday, November 20  |  12:30-1:30 p.m.  |  CEP, 410 French Hall

December 2017 — Fun with snowflake science!
Monday, December 4  |  12:30-1:30 p.m.  |  CEP, 410 French Hall
Thursday, December 7  |  5-6 p.m.  |  CSEP Conference Room, 215 MSB

Email eatonk@umflint.edu for more information.


What degrees do you hold? 

  • B.S. Forensic Science, Michigan State University
  • M.Ed. Education, University of Michigan
  • Ph.D. Science Education (Dec 2017), Western Michigan University

Why are you passionate about your field?
The relationship aspect of supporting students as they begin to build their teaching practice is very rewarding! I think mentorship is a key component of having successful teachers in the classroom. I genuinely enjoy seeing students excited about experiencing and teaching science.

How did you fall in love with your discipline?
I have always been curious about scientific phenomenon and questioning the world around me. Forensic Science was a great fit for me because it incorporated all of the scientific disciplines and even had a problem solving component. Science Education has a unique challenge in that the things we know today may be different tomorrow based on new discoveries or new technologies. How cool is that?!

What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
I really enjoy teaching science methods courses and mentoring interns during their placements. It is rewarding to see the “ah-ha” moments when they start shaping their own teaching practices. I am also excited to teach the Integrated Science courses, they connect well to my Forensic Science background.

What is your latest or favorite research project?
My current research project is looking at how professional identity develops during a teacher education program. It is interesting to see what components are influencing the development of candidates’ identities as teachers. A secondary question is what, if any, impact a cohort model has on their identity development. This is significant because many undergraduate programs are shifting to cohort models.

What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
My hope is that I am building longstanding relationships with my students, colleagues, and within the Flint community. I would like my students to see me as a mentor rather than just an instructor of a course they had to take. That role opens up an opportunity to extend beyond the classroom and be a part of their growth as classroom teachers. I am also looking forward to creating community connections that build on our course learning objectives.

Katherine Eaton (left) and student Nancy Lareau pose with astronaut Story Musgrave

Katherine Eaton (left) and student Nancy Lareau pose with astronaut Story Musgrave

Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community?
I am excited to be a part of the integrated science TCP. The joint appointment between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education is a unique opportunity to combine my experiences as a scientist and educator. The Flint community has had a special place in my life for the last 20 years and I look forward to not only being an active member of the community but also supporting Flint Public Schools with well-prepared teacher interns. The place-based education opportunities at UM-Flint will provide wonderful ways to discuss science and pedagogy.

What do you hope for students in your field?
I hope students in Science Education enjoy the natural curiosities we all have and find ways to bring that into their own classrooms. New discoveries in science are happening every day and, as teachers, we get to share and explore these ideas with our students. Many advances in science came from failed experiments so I hope my students see that as an opportunity to take chances and try new things.

What are three things you think people should know about you? 

  • I am passionate about my students and they will always be a priority.
  • I truly enjoy researching my own practice and growing as an educator and mentor.
  • When I win the lotto, I will host free educational retreats in the Caribbean for science teachers!
03/22/17

High School Teachers Utilize UM-Flint Resources to Bring Science to Life

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

UM-Flint students experience hands-on learning, meaningful interactions with their faculty, and access to state-of-the-art equipment in their departments. They also make memories that stick with them for a lifetime and inspire them to come back to campus. Two UM-Flint alumni, Mandi Davis and Theresa Krejci (both teachers for the Byron Area Schools), recently returned to UM-Flint with their own students. They were hoping to show off a little of what made their UM-Flint experiences so special while giving the students access to recently renovated laboratory spaces.

Visiting Biology at UM-Flint

The Byron anatomy and physiology students began their day by visiting the gross anatomy lab with the Biology Department‘s Dennis Viele. They interacted with the university’s cadavers—examining the differing pathologies of hearts, seeing a spinal cord, and even touching an intact brain. “I wanted my students to see that UM-Flint is a great place to get their degree as well as expose them to some new opportunities in the field of science,” said Krejci. “We were able to view parts of the human body that we have or will be studying.”

Krejci graduated in 1993 with a degree in biology, a minor in mathematics, and a general science teaching certificate. “It was nice to return and see that so many improvements had been made,” she said. “The cadaver lab is equipped with lots of technology which allows for better learning for the students.”

Dennis Viele of UM-Flint biology leads students in interacting with a cadaver.

Dennis Viele of UM-Flint biology leads students in interacting with a cadaver.

Krejci teaches physical science and anatomy & physiology. She has also served as a biology teacher, a middle school science teacher, and was the curriculum director at Byron Area Schools for 11 years. She coaches 8th grade volleyball, summer softball, and works with the youth at her church.

Theresa Krejci, UM-Flint alumna and teacher for Byron Area Schools

Theresa Krejci, UM-Flint alumna and teacher for Byron Area Schools

Krejci fondly remembers UM-Flint and appreciates the ways in which her time as a student prepared her for her career. “The class sizes were not huge and you were able to talk with your professors if you needed to,” she recalled. “I enjoyed the lab experiences that I had while at U of M. I particularly enjoyed the field biology course that I took.”

Connecting Students

Byron honors chemistry students also visited UM-Flint, led by teacher and NHS advisor Mandi Davis. They were treated to chemistry demos by UM-Flint Chem Club students Noor Alawwa, Lynnette Harris, and Aaron Hancock, and then conducted their own experiments in one of the newly renovated Chemistry & Biochemistry Department labs.

Davis graduated from UM-Flint in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a minor in math, and a teacher’s certificate. She completed her MA in educational technology in 2013. “It was great to return to campus,” said Davis. “I want to be able to expose my students to things that we cannot bring to Byron—to instrumentation, to some of the things that can inspire [and] ignite love for science!”

Lynnette Harris and Noor Alawwa of the UM-Flint Chem Club conduct a demo for visiting high schoolers.

Lynnette Harris and Noor Alawwa of the UM-Flint Chem Club conduct a demo for visiting high schoolers.

UM-Flint Laboratory Manager Monique Wilhelm helped coordinate the chemistry students’ visit. “Opportunities like these are extremely important in this day and age when everyone thinks they have all of the information at their fingertips,” noted Wilhelm. “Science is a process, not just a bunch of facts, and this process really needs a hands-on component that not all schools have the opportunity to give. Memorizing facts is not why anyone I know decided to become a scientist. It was the physical things we do and see, and the way we think, that motivated most of us to do what we do.”

UM-Flint alumni and teacher Mandi Davis with her students.

UM-Flint alumna and teacher Mandi Davis with her students.

While their experiments were running, the high schoolers had a chance to talk with current UM-Flint students and ask questions about being in college. “These students can only really learn what our campus is like by interacting with the students and faculty,” said Wilhelm. “Our campus’ biggest assets are its people.”

Students from Byron spend time with UM-Flint chemistry students in recently renovated labs.

Students from Byron spend time with UM-Flint chemistry students in recently renovated labs.

“These opportunities are important for our students,” Wilhelm continued, “as it gives them an opportunity to discuss science with non-scientists, as well as show their pride in what they do. Communication is the most important skill for any scientist and where they generally fall short is communication to the general public. This type of event is one of the things that makes the Chemistry Club such a great opportunity for all of our students.”

The Impact of Experience

Davis’ time as a UM-Flint student left her with a lasting impression of her faculty. “Dr. Virgil Cope, who was my academic advisor, had the biggest impact on my UM-Flint career,” she said. “He was a professor who was available to his students whenever we needed. We could be working on problems in the breezeway and, if we had questions, he had no problem stopping and sitting and answering them for us. He believed in me. I was nominated for the Maize and Blue Award, and he helped me to believe in myself and believe that I was worthy of the award. I won that award as well as Outstanding Graduate from the Chemistry Department. And I wasn’t even a ‘full fledged’ chemistry major—I was an education major!”

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

Honors Chemistry students from Byron visit UM-Flint labs on a field trip.

“Marina Ionina was another impacting professor,” continued Davis. “I did a lot of work with Marina and she helped me in the TCP (teacher certificate program) part of my experience at UM-Flint. She helped me to understand/explore how to teach chemistry, not just be able to do chemistry.”

Davis has high hopes that the visit to UM-Flint will be meaningful to her students and their futures. “I hope it sparks interest and excites them,” she said. “I want these experiences to be the things they look back on and think, ‘that was awesome—that was when I realized science was something I wanted to pursue.’  We all know that the ‘facts’ students learn on a day-to-day basis aren’t going to be what they remember—it’s going to be these types of experiences.”

09/20/16

UM-Flint History Heads for Peaks and Valleys of Germany

Chris Molnar, Associate Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

UM-Flint History and the Wyatt Exploration Program

Since 2009, the Wyatt Exploration Program has allowed History students in UM-Flint’s College of Arts & Sciences to travel the world with their faculty—at almost no cost to the students themselves.

The program is funded from a generous bequest made by Dr. Dorothea E. Wyatt, the first chair of the Department of History and one of the original sixteen faculty members of the University of Michigan-Flint (or Flint College as it was called in 1956).

Each Wyatt journey is led by a History Department faculty member (known as the Wyatt Fellow) and explores a region and topics related to their field of study. Past trips abroad have been made to Poland, Japan, Wales, and London; others have explored topics closer to home, heading to the “Old South” and even staying in Flint.

Both UM-Flint History majors and minors are  eligible to apply for the Wyatt Exploration Program.

When history major Monica Wiggins transferred to UM-Flint from Mott Community College, she was ecstatic to find out about the Wyatt program and its support for students. She said, “When I found out via email that I had been selected, I screamed, cried, and then said a thank-you prayer to Dorothea Wyatt. Having the trip paid for enables ‘broke college students’ to experience another country and culture that they might otherwise not be able to. It makes you a better informed person. You study these places and events, and then getting to see them first hand and in person is completely different.”

A Life-Changing Journey

The Wyatt Program is officially announced each year at a Kick Off Celebration. This year’s event, held in early September, included talks by the 2015-16 Wyatt Fellow, Professor John Ellis; department chair, Professor Roy Hanashiro; and one of the student travelers from the 2016 trip to London, Melissa Ormechea-Smith.

Dr. Ellis described his trip as a transformational experience, and noted how special it was to see London through the eyes of his students, saying “that is an experience as a teacher that is irreplaceable.”

Melissa Ormechea-Smith - Social Studies TCP and English Literature student - speaking on the UM-Flint History trip to London, England, in 2016.

Melissa Ormechea-Smith – Social Studies TCP and English Literature student – speaking on the UM-Flint History trip to London, England, in 2016.

Melissa Ormechea-Smith, a student of education and english literature, was also changed by her three weeks in London, England. It was her first time abroad and she was grateful for the financial support provided by the Wyatt Program. She noted that, while trips to museums, palaces, and the financial district were memorable, it was the chance to visit the resting place of Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey that will really stay with her. Amidst awe-inspiring architecture and while being humbled by the sheer weight of history, said Smith “I was brought to tears by gratitude for the Wyatt experience. In that huge crowd, I had a profound personal experience.”

Smith is working on her secondary teacher’s certificate program (TCP) in social studies. She knows her experience in London will make her a better teacher and that it’s something she’ll share with her students. “I knew I wouldn’t be the same person coming home,” said Smith, “My perspective and outlook are forever changed.”

The 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration Program—titled “Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys”—will be led by Dr. Chris Molnar, Assistant Professor of European History. Said Molnar, “It is a great honor to have been chosen by my colleagues as the 2016-2017 Wyatt Fellow. Now I am excited to have a chance to share my interest in German history and culture with the campus community and to take a group of students to Germany and Austria at the end of the year.”

Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys

“When people hear ‘Germany,’” said Molnar at the Wyatt Kick Off event, “they think of two things: beer and Nazis.” With this in mind, Molnar chose his Wyatt Exploration Journey carefully—intent on showing his students that there are many more sides to Germany. He acknowledged the Third Reich and the Holocaust may be the darkest spots in Germany history, but reminded the audience that they are not the whole history.

Chris Molnar, Associate Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

Chris Molnar, Assistant Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

Molnar plans to bring students to Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Munich—focusing on the Bavarian region of Germany and its Alpine mountain range. They will also stop in Salzburg, Austria. Said Molnar, “The mountains have shaped German and especially Austrian culture, and so Wyatt explorers will also have a chance to head up into the mountains to take in the fresh air, breathtaking views, and traditional alpine hospitality.”

Students will see the remains of a Roman fortification, visit the favorite seat of the Holy Roman Empire, cruise the Danube, ride a cable car to the peak of Untersberg mountain, and enjoy traditional fare at a variety of eateries.

Continued Molnar, “Those who take part in this year’s Wyatt trip will develop a much deeper appreciation for the complicated history and culture of a fascinating and beautiful country!”

Wyatt Events for Campus & Community

To be eligible for the Wyatt Exploration trip, History majors and minors attend a series of events in addition to the required coursework. The events consist of guest lectures and fun activities—most open to all campus and community members.

The 2016-17 Wyatt events include:

• Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Lecture: “The Many Faces of Munich: The Bavarian capital in the Turbulent Twentieth Century” with Dr. Derek Hastings, Associate Professor in History at Oakland University.
Time: 4pm
Location: 251 French Hall

• Saturday, October 15, 2016
Oktoberfest Celebration featuring a thirty-piece German brass band, a dance floor, and complementary Bavarian dinner buffet. Registration required.
Location: Flint Elks Lodge, 7177 E. Maple Ave., Grand Blanc, MI.

• Thursday, October 20, 2016
Lecture: “Terrorism and Security: or, How Did We Get Here? The Example of 1970s West Germany” with Dr. Karrin Hanshew, Associate Professor in History at Michigan State University.

• Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Wyatt Movie NightAli: Fear Eats the Soul

• Monday, November 14, 2016
Lecture: “The Modern Invention of the Medieval Executioner” with Dr. Joel Harrington, Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.

• Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Krampus: the South German Christmas Devil. Join us on St. Nick’s Day to hear Professor Molnar describe the murky origins, history, and cultural meaning of Krampus, the south German Christmas devil.

Full event details will be posted on the UM-Flint History website. Questions can also be directed to Chris Molnar at chrismol@umflint.edu.


For more information on the Wyatt Exploration Program, visit umflint.edu/history or call 810.762.3366.

Applications for the 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration journey to Germany open in November 2016 and close in early January 2017. History students interested in being considered should obtain a passport and further details from the UM-Flint History Department office.