January 2018
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Online M.Ed. Program in Science Education

Posted: January 16th, 2018, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Dear friends, I hope you can help me distribute this information in British Columbia and outside of it. We are starting our new online Master’s of Education program in science education. Anybody around the world who registered and was admitted into the program (we will have fewer than 20 teachers in our first cohort) will pay local tuition (so no international fees).

I hope we can attract knowledgeable and enthusiastic science teachers who want to learn, collaborate, explore new technologies and pedagogies and earn a graduate degree at a world-class university (I know I might not be modest, but in 2017 we were ranked 13th in the world and 2nd in Canada, in 2016 we were ranked first in Canada and 9 worldwide). Please email me if you have any questions. This is an exciting opportunity for science teachers to earn an advanced degree while working full time in their own schools. It is also a great opportunity to meet inspirational science educators from around the world. Get in touch with us. The deadline for the application in March 31st. Find more information on our web site – below.

AAPT-2019 Invited Talk

Posted: January 4th, 2018, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Future science teachers at the University of British Columbia.

On January 8, 2018 I will be giving an invited talk at the Winter-2018 National Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in San-Diego, California. I am very excited about it as my talk will focus on something, I have been very interested for a while: the opportunities that we overlook while teaching in a foreign language. It is very common to think that not having English (or whatever is the language you are teaching physics in is) as your first language is a huge drawback. I think we forget that there are also many pluses here. I try to emphasize it while I work with future physics teachers here at UBC. I hope my talk will be of interest to the attendees. Below I posted the information about my talk:

Session FH: Teaching and Learning Physics in a Second Language

Location: Royal Palm Five/Six Sponsors: Committee on International Physics Education, Committee on Diversity in Physics

Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m. Date: Monday, January 8 Presider: Geraldine Cochran

FH01 7:00-7:30 p.m. Teaching Physics in a Foreign Language: Challenges and Opportunities

Invited – Marina Milner-Bolotin, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T2K1Z4 Canada;

With the growing number of North American physics teachers for whom English is their second, third, or even fourth language, we often focus on the challenges they face in our classrooms. However, this disregards the fact that many North American students are also non-native English speakers. Moreover, teaching requires much more than mastering the language, such as cultural fluency and familiarity with local education system. How does that affect physics teaching? By focusing solely on these challenges, we forget that physics teachers who come from different countries also have significant advantages compared to their native counterparts. By “speaking” multiple languages and cultures, they can trace the history of international science curricula and terminology. They can also better relate to non-native English speaking students. In this presentation I focus on advantages of teaching physics in a foreign language that are often overlooked in teacher education programs and in the teaching practice.


Teacher-Candidates’ STEM Video Projects

Posted: November 30th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

This term thanks to the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement grant funding and to the support of the Educational Technology Services at UBC Faculty of Education (thanks Sharon, Yvonne and Eric for your help in conducting Camtasia workshop and thanks to Gerald for helping out) we were able to create a new assignment for our STEM Teacher-Candidates. They were asked to design a video of a science experiment they can do with their own students during the practicum and beyond. Our goal was to create resources that will serve them well beyond the program, as well as to help them acquire technical skills. As I am receiving students’ projects, I keep thinking about teaching that inspires student creativity and support them in exploring their passions. Here is a project by Colin.

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This project also shows that it is not enough to tell students we have resources on campus (UBC has a free Camtasia license for faculty, students and staff). We have to show students why using these resources is beneficial for them. This is exactly why we wanted to design our database of educational videos of STEM experiments: STEM Education Videos for All We started the database, but now our Teacher-Candidates are contributing to it. This was an entire goal of the project and it is exciting to see how it is growing beyond the original funding. I am very grateful and excited we had this opportunity.

UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund

Posted: November 22nd, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin
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Since coming to UBC in 2004, I was very fortunate to participate in many projects aimed at improving educational experiences of our students. These projects would not have been possible if not for the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund – TLEF. This fund’s goal is to support innovation in teaching and learning at UBC and encourage faculty members to try new things and continue working on improving students’ experiences. Since I am always interested in exploring how technology can improve student learning, this is a fantastic opportunity for me and my graduate students to try new things. It is also an opportunity to collaborate with other faculty members across campus.

Our latest project that was funded by TLEF focused on the use of technology to improve the preparation of science and mathematics teachers at UBC. We produced short videos of science experiments that Teacher-Candidates can perform during their practicum or during our now famous UBC Facutly of Education Family Math and Science Day. To learn more about our project, please visit this project report site and of course our YouTube channel of science experiments: Science & Math Education Videos for All.


Another Successful Family Math and Science Day

Posted: November 5th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

UBC Faculty of Education held our now famous annual event dedicated to hands-on mathematics and science: Seventh UBC Faculty of Education Mathematics and Science Day. We are very grateful for the continuous support of our event. We are also supported by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematics Sciences who realize that children’s interest in mathematics and science starts at home and should be nurtured from the very early age.

This year, more than 500 people took part in our event. We had more than 400 guests, more than 100 different mathematics and science stations and more than 140 volunteers. We see a steady growth in the interest in STEM in our community and we are proud to report that we are contributing to it. We are also excited to see how our Teacher-Candidates learning to communicate science to the general public. Making sure that parents are involved in mathematics and science education of their children is very important and this was an excellent opportunity for our Teacher-Candidates to practice how to engage families in STEM.

It was very encouraging to witness how parents and children were excited about mathematics and science. We saw entire families (grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren) doing activities together and having fun in the process.

This year our elementary and secondary Teacher-Candidates collaborated on their stages and the effect was amazing. We also collaborated with our art education students and had a very interesting Creative Lab, where guests used recycled materials to create their own project. In addition, we incorporated the video resources we have created earlier with the support of UBC’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund: STEM Education Videos for All.

It was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.

To see more pictures from the event click here.

7th Family Math and Science Day at UBC

Posted: October 25th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Meeting Sheila Tobias

Posted: October 20th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Last week I had a very special opportunity that I almost missed…  UBC Faculty of Applied Science invited Sheila Tobias to present a special lecture .  I have learned about Sheila Tobias many years ago. When I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of TX at Austin, my supervisor advised me to read Sheila’s book “They Are Not Dumb, They Are Different”. I remember how big an impression this book made on me. It not only influenced the course of my own doctoral studies, but also my views on science teaching and learning. Later, I found out that Sheila had a very interesting professional path and was one of the trailblazers in the field of science education, focusing on how we engage students with science, how we teach it and what the outcomes of this traditional teaching are… I read other Sheila’s books, such as  “Rethinking Science as a Career”, “Revitalizing Undergraduate Science” and I know she wrote many more.

So I was very excited. I planned to attended this lecture and meet the woman whose work I so much appreciated. I was looking forward to it and I was especially excited that my sister, Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin (who is also a teacher) was in town that day. However, at the very last moment, a special Departmental event came up and I had to miss the lecture. Luckily my sister  attended the lecture and then arranged a meeting with Sheila. So after all, thanks to my sister, I had an amazing opportunity to meet Sheila Tobias in person. I am planning to re-read her book “They Are Not Dumb, They Are Different” once again, as it will give me some good ideas for discussion with my future physics teachers. I wish my students could attend that meeting as well.

New Online M.Ed. Program at the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy

Posted: October 16th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I have been teaching graduate courses in the Faculty of Education at UBC for the last 8 years. During this time, I have worked with many practising teachers, who have decided to pursue their advance academic degree. One of the challenges they faced was combining work, family and their studies. Commute to UBC was a big part of it. Therefore, I am very excited to share the news about our new and exciting on-line Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Science Education part-time professional degree program that we will commence at UBC starting September 2018.

While designing this program we recognized the keen desire of practising science teachers in school districts outside of the Lower Mainland of BC to earn their Master’s degrees, and the challenges they face in being able to undertake such professional development given the issues of geographic distance and access from districts outside of Vancouver. Even for the teachers who work in Vancouver, the commute to UBC can be daunting if not a waste of time. Consequently, we have developed a new Master’s Degree program especially for such science teachers that is delivered fully on-line without the need to relocate or travel to UBC Vancouver.

A full description of the new program can be found at There will be livestreamed information session on Friday October 27th 4:00-5:30 PM, details of how to participate can be found at Feel free to email or call me if you have any questions about it.

I would like to encourage those who may have an interest in obtaining their Master’s Degrees to apply before March 1, 2018.

New Program Brochure: SCED_brochure_2018

Reflections on Budapest: Science Teacher Education in Hungary

Posted: September 30th, 2017, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

I had a very exciting opportunity to visit Eotvas Lorand University in Budapest Hungary. I was asked to present on physics teacher education that I do here in Canada and on science outreach. Both topics are very important to me and it is always great to meet people who are interested to know what we are doing. This was also a very exciting opportunity as every visits gives you a chance to see how people at other universities and other countries do what we do here. It is always an opportunity to learn from others.

Budapest was certainly a very attractive opportunity for me. Teacher education in Hungary has a long history. This country of less than 10 million people has produced many famous physicists, writers, musicians and artists. They clearly value education and put a lot of efforts into teacher education. I had a chance to meet many interesting people (both faculty and students) and learned a little bit about how they educate future physics teachers. I also had an opportunity to visit a physics lab of Prof. Tamas Tel who showed me beautiful experiments on solitons. Prof. Tel is a theoretical physicist who studies fluid dynamics. But unlike many theoretical physicists, he also built a lab where he can also do experiments. For example, he showed me very elegant demonstrations showing how solitons (a self-reinforcing solitary wave) can propagate and how understanding this phenomenon can explain many atmospheric phenomena we see in nature.

As far as I understood, in Hungary, secondary physics teachers are educated in the Faculty of Science and they have much more experience with the didactic aspects of physics teaching as compared to our teacher education program. For example, they do physics labs where they have to learn how to perform many experiments from the secondary school curriculum. I also was very impressed by the mentoring that happens after they graduate from the university and become practicing teachers. Lastly, I met with very inspirational physics teachers who do a lot of extracurricular activities with their students and I could see how the University supports that. This was also something we can learn from.

This was a very exciting visit and I am very grateful to my Hungarian colleagues for their hospitality. I hope to be able to collaborate with them in the future.

My presentations:



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.

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