September 2017
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Exploring UBC campus: Erasing the boundaries

Posted: September 12th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I have had a very exciting and somewhat busy first week of classes. Since I teach two general science methods courses, as well as a physics methods course, I have an opportunity to do even more exciting things. It also makes me think harder about connections between different sciences and not only about physics education. It of course helps that I have a very interesting group of students who have expertise in biology, biochemistry, geology, mathematics, chemistry, physics and other fields. It is also an international group. We have students from Europe, Asia, South America, the US and of course Canada. This is very exciting.

For example, today we explored UBC campus and considered where our teacher-candidates can take their own students on field trips. Since I love our campus, I wanted to share it with them, while helping them making science connections. Fortunately, UBC has many museums and very exciting places. Beaty Biodiversity museum, the Museum of Anthropology, Belkin Art Gallery, Pacific Museum of Earth, our Botanical Garden, to name a few. And each one of these places has very interesting science connection. All these are wonderful opportunities to engage students in science.

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It was a wonderful day and I hope it is only the beginning of a very exciting term. I am looking forward to it.

Scientific Communication: Creating STEM Videos

Posted: September 6th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Learning how to share your ideas with your students in creative ways is a great skills for any educators. It is even more important for mathematics and science teachers. In British Columbia, with the introduction of the new science curriculum, learning how to engage students with big science ideas in an interactive and creative way is one of the key skills we want teacher-candidates to acquire. To support our teacher-candidates in learning how to do that, we created a special project: Scientific Communication: Creating STEM explainer videos. This project was a collaboration between Sharon Hu, Gerald Tembrevilla and myself. It was funded by the Sky, Water, Earth: University of British Columbia Faculty of Education project, where Sharon is a Co-PI.

This will help you learn how to create videos of science experiments for your students.

Scientific communication: Creating STEM videos – a step by step guide for science educators.

September 1st, 2017

Posted: September 1st, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Growing up in the family that valued education and having a mother who was a mathematics and science teacher, September 1st has always been a special day for me. In the Soviet Union where I grew up, it marked the beginning of a new academic year – a new adventure. And while I had my ups and downs at school, I liked to study (I still do).

September 1st USSR – vintage photo. We would come with beautiful bouquets for our teachers to thank them for their work.

This is going to be my 40th academic year (sounds strange, but I have been in school in various capacities for 4 decades now).

This year I am especially excited as I am going to teach a new General Science Methods course in addition to my Physics Methods course. In both courses, we will be using new resources we have been working on during the summer. I want to see how this goes!

We also have started planning our 7th UBC Faculty of Education Family Mathematics and Science Day. It will take place on November 4th.  I would like to wish all my students, colleagues and their families a successful and productive new academic year! Let 2017-2018 school year begin!

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Happy New Academic Year

Posted: August 23rd, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I was fortunate to take this photo during the 2017 solar eclipse in Vancouver. Tree canopies serve as tiny pinhole cameras, so we see the images of the sun on the pavement (small crescents) during the eclipse.

As I am preparing to my 8th academic year as a Teacher at the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, I keep thinking of my role as a science educator who has a lucky opportunity to help prepare new STEM teachers. I am deliberately using the word Teacher and not Professor, as I think of myself as a teacher of teachers who is doing research on teacher education and who is using the results of her research to improve her practice and to improve the practice of her colleagues. I am also thinking that today I have many STEM teachers in BC and world-wide who were my students and I would like to wish them a great year.

A new academic year is always a new and exciting beginning. It gives me an opportunity to wish all my students (STEM Teacher-Candidates) an inspiring academic year. It is also an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and what we would like to do differently. For example, Family Math and Science Day that will happen on November 4th, 2017 at UBC Faculty of Education will have more resources for Teacher-Candidates and for our community of families to use (see below). We will also be thinking of new BC Science Curriculum and how we can prepare our teachers better, so they can implement it successfully. I will also be thinking of the research conducted by my graduate students that bridge educational theory and practice. I am looking forward to this academic year!

Here is a list of a few new or upcoming resources that you might find useful:

a) Fifty new very short videos of simple physics demonstrations and experiments you can do with your students: Physics videos.

b) A new issue of Physics in  Canada dedicated to science outreach is coming out in October (Vol. 73, issue 3, 2017). Sarah Johnson and Marina Milner-Bolotin edited it.

c) This year (March 2018) UBC Physics Olympics will celebrate its 40th anniversary – this is going to be a very special event. Get ready!

d) In  addition to many new exciting simulations, PhET team has released a new app for Android. We hope this new resource will inspire you and your students to do exciting new virtual experiments.

Connor Gabriel (a UBC student and a future teacher) shared with us this amazing photos of the Solar Eclipse 2017. Thank you Connor!

The collage of 2017 Solar Eclipse photos made by Connor Gabriel.

To see more photos of the solar eclipse, please click here.

STEM Videos for Teachers, Students and Families

Posted: August 11th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

An add-free YouTube channel of science and mathematics experiments for everybody

During the last year a group of my students and I have been working on creating short videos of STEM experiments that our teacher-candidates can do with their students. This project became possible thanks to the generous support of the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. We are very grateful for their support.

Many of these experiments can also be done at home. A significant number of them are simple and do not require special expensive equipment, yet they illustrate interesting science concepts. We also point to additional resources such as computer simulations, interesting web site, etc.

Recently, we were asked to share them with Chinese teachers who do not have access to YouTube. As a result, we uploaded them here in addition to sharing them via YouTube. Please let us know what you think!

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Physics in Canada Science Outreach Issue

Posted: August 4th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. (Carl Sagan)

For the last year and a half, my colleague from Simon Fraser University, Dr. Sarah Johnson, and I have been collaborating as co-editors of a special issue of Physics in Canada, dedicated to physics outreach in Canada. The goal of this issue is to share science outreach ideas and to see what is happening across our country so we can learn from each other and hopefully collaborate. As both of us have been actively engaged with science outreach for more than two decades. we realize that we cannot keep reinventing the wheel of science outreach. There is too much to be done to rediscovering it again and again. As a result we collected 13 exciting papers dedicated to science outreach in Canada. This special issue will come out in November 2017.

The preliminary version of the foreword to the issue can be found here:


Science outreach event at Richmond Public Library, spring 2017

Getting ready for September!

Posted: August 4th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Presenting my work on Deliberate Pedagogical Thinking with Technology in STEM at Beijing Normal University (May, 2017)


As I am getting ready for September and for a new academic year, I keep thinking about why I like my work and why it is not a job, but a career (if not passion). This is going to be my 25th year of teaching (officially!), which makes me wonder how fast the time flew.

So what attracts me the most – is an opportunity to think about exciting things, such as how we can use technology to promote mathematics and science education for our students and future teachers. For example, a few years ago I started using Collaborative Learning Annotation System (CLAS) and I think it helped me improve the quality of my teacher-candidates’ learning experiences significantly. For the last year we have been working hard on creating short videos of science experiments relevant to BC curriculum – Math & Science Education Videos for all. Once again, we have been using various technologies to do that – from YouTube to Camtasia, etc.

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In the past my students and I have created a database of conceptual STEM questions for students, teachers and parents.

I also keep thinking about data collection technology that we all now have at our fingertips – our smartphones and of course computer simulations. So the possibilities are limitless. However, it also means we have to try and figure out how we use these amazing tools to promote learning. These tools will not do a revolution in education. They will open new possibilities, but we have to be prepared to use them to promote learning. So this brings me to my own research endeavours. This is the focus of my research – developing Deliberate Pedagogical Thinking with Technology in STEM – helping STEM teachers learn how to take advantage of these new possibilities. I am very excited to continue working on it as we need to change how future STEM teachers think of technology if we want them to incorporate it effectively in their teaching. This is definitely worth thinking about and this is why I am so excited to star the new academic year!


Beijing Normal University Seminar 3: The Future of Education

Posted: May 31st, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I was invited to give a talk to a group of graduate students in the course of Prof. Feng-Kuang Chiang. It was a very positive experience.

This May I had an opportunity to participate in the third seminar organized by Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Future Education. More than 20 people were invited to attend this seminar. The researchers from the UK, Finland, Australia, Canada, the US, Greece, and China presented their collaborative research projects focused on rethinking the future of education. This workshop also included a visit to yet another elementary school in Beijing which is always an exciting experience.

Going to Beijing is always an invigorating opportunity to learn something new. I can see that Beijing Normal University (BNU) is investing seriously into education. And it definitely shows. Every time I come (and I had an opportunity to visit BNU three times this year), I see some new initiatives, new projects, inspiring faculty and students. I am very grateful to have an opportunity to collaborate with Professor Feng-Kuang Chiang, whose area of research is in educational technology and teacher education.

Wendy, Prof. Feng-Kuang Chiang and I right before my presentation.

One of the things that I have learned during the visit is new efforts in China to create online opportunities for tutoring for all K-12 students. They are paying teachers to tutor students online, such as all students can get access to good teachers. In addition there are new projects to introducing Artificial Intelligence tutoring in schools more widely. They are also rethinking their examination system. So it looks like China is undergoing significant educational reforms now and they want to learn from the researchers worldwide. This is very inspiring.

Lastly, I also presented my poster that explored new ways of thinking about teacher knowledge and its growth:

Presenting my poster that explored new ways of thinking about teachers’ knowledge and its growth.

Teachers and Teaching in the Era of Change

Posted: May 18th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

On February 5-7 2018, a group of Israeli and Canadian educators will meet at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to participate in an interactive workshop that will explore how technology may shape teaching and teacher education. We decided to call it “Teaching and Teaching in the Era of Change”.

The workshop was funded by the Halbert Center for Canadian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The workshop leaders and grant Principal Co-Investigators are:

Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin from the University of British Columbia (Co-PI)

Dr. Yifat Ben-David Kolikant from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Co-PI)

Dr. Dragana Martinovic from the University of Windsor in Canada (Co-PI).

Workshop’s overview:

Teachers nowadays face unprecedented challenges. The world is in constant flux: there are enormous socio-political changes, trends of globalization, massive worldwide immigration, and rapidly-emerging life-altering technologies. Consequently, there is a growing  expectation that the 21st century teachers will have ample opportunities to re-examine their teaching philosophies, and adjust their pedagogical practices in view of the role digital technology plays and should play in supporting student learning. These expectations present significant challenges to teachers, who are often  asked to implement novel (technology-rich) pedagogies they did not have a chance to experience as students or become comfortable with. To exacerbate the problem, the 21st century teachers function not only in a frequently-changing educational reality manifested by continuous reforms, but are also bombarded by often contradictory and competing demands from the legislators, administrators, parents, and students.

How do we break the vicious circle of reforms and support teachers in making a real change in student learning? This proposed 3-day workshop will bring together researchers from Israel and Canada to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to discuss the challenges today’s teachers and teacher-educators face in their practice. Technology has a potential to empower teachers in this era of change. Informed by the latest research findings, we will explore current pedagogical trends and practices in both Israel and Canada, and discuss ways to unleash the potential  of technology to support teacher education, teaching practices, and professional development.

As a followup of this workshop, we will propose a similar workshop in Canada with invited presenters from Israel, and will work on an edited book with selected publications from the workshop.

For workshop information please contact Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin: marina.milner-bolotin(at)

TLEF Showcase 2017

Posted: May 11th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

On May 4, 2017 Gerald Tembrevilla and I had and opportunity to share our work on the collection of videos for future STEM educators. This work has been supported by UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, UBC Work and Learn Program and the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

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Our presentation: 2017_UBC_TLEF_poster_MilnerBolotin_Tembrevilla_Final

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