January 2016

New Year – New Beginnings


The view from the First Peak of Mt. Seymour

As I am beginning a new year and reflecting on the past one, I cannot stop appreciating how many new interesting people I have met in 2016. While snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour during the winter break, I had a chance to think once again about the year of 2015. It was a great year for me. And the main reason I am saying that is because I think this year offered me many-many wonderful opportunities to learn and to interact with inspiring people many of whom I hadn’t had a chance to meet before. I am not going to mention my friends and family, as I have an opportunity to interact with them often and I do appreciate them very-very much. I cannot even imagine how to describe the influence they are having on me (for example, I discuss physics, physics teaching and general education-related ideas with my husband all the time and even if I never admit it, I do listen to his views). Here I would like to mention “the new” people I met and the new opportunities that I was presented with.

I would like to start with my students. The students in my Physics Methods course and in my online ETEC 533 course in the Masters of Educational Technology Program were amazing. Every time I meet new physics teachers who love physics, who love teaching and who want to share their passion with the students inspire me. I have had plenty of these students in my EDCP 357 course and I am grateful for that. My online courses (I taught the same course twice last year) were also very inspirational for me. These people are so knowledgeable. Just looking at the project they produced as part of the course make me very proud of them: ETEC533 tutorials. I am glad to say that it looks like they also inspired some of my students. I am grateful for that. Then I had a chance to conduct workshops for Chinese mathematics and science teachers at Chaoyang School District in Beijing. This was a wonderful opportunity to share what I know, but also to learn from these very knowledgeable teachers. In addition, I met a colleague – Dr. To Yue who is an expert on Vernier technology and who helped me with the workshop – it was great. This was very-very interesting! I also had a chance to conduct a mathematics workshop for families which was attending by almost hundred people. It was a great experience for me. My colleagues and I organized our 5th Mathematics and Science Family day that was attended by more than 300 people. It has become a tradition in the Faculty now. I am so happy that I started something so positive and that I have wonderful colleagues who support me in this initiative (things like that is impossible to do alone – you have to be a team and we do!). In addition, 37th UBC Physics Olympics had almost 60 schools took part it it – it was very successful. I am proud to be part of the team who brings more than 300 students from all over BC to campus for a fun day of hands on physics. I represent the Faculty of Education in this event and I think I am doing a good job doing that. I also introduced special workshops (professional development activities) for physics teachers during the day and it worked very well.

I also kept visiting elementary schools as part of my involvement in mathematics and science outreach! And most importantly, a number of my papers, book chapters and reviews were accepted for publication, including the approval of the second edition of our Undergraduate Physics Textbook. This textbook has been a big team effort and I have learned so much in the process. Working with my colleagues and c0-authors – Bob Hawkes, Firas Mansour, Peter Williams and Javed Iqbal was a great experience (not always easy, but always very intellectually challenging). I know that as a result of writing our book my physics knowledge and my knowledge of physics pedagogy has improved significantly.

Lastly, I had many opportunities to attend a number of local, national and international STEM Education Conferences and workshops, such as UBC Technology Expo NARST conference in Chicago in April of 2015, AAPT Winter 2015 meeting in San Diego, a special Bay View Alliance Conference in Palo Alto, California, a special Vernier workshop in Seattle, the meetings of BC Association of Physics Teachers and local STEM teachers’ associations’ meetings. There were fantastic events. I also had a chance to travel in Europe a little bit. I presented a colloquium at Aarhus University in Denmark, and attended an International Engineering Education Conference at UBC. In addition I attended and took an active part at the Canadian Association of Physicists Conference in Edmonton. In all of these events I had a chance to interact with very knowledgeable and inspirational people and I am grateful for that.

I hope this year will bring more opportunities and I also hope that I will be able to make a positive impact on the people who I will meet this year.

With the very best wishes for 2016, M.



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