November 2017
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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.

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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