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Scientific community/Education/Science education/Science curricula/Undergraduate science

Making science relevant and building connections between students are important ways to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to study science, according to the winners of the AAAS Mentor Awards.

Nathan Klingbeil and his colleagues at Wright State University have found a way to double the graduation rate of engineering students. The key element is modifying how and when calculus is taught, so that it is not a barrier to learning but is in sync with how budding engineers solve problems.

Associate Professor Dawn Rickey’s first realization that lab classes could be more educational came when she was a teaching assistant for California’s cream-of-the-crop chemistry undergrads at the University of California, Berkeley.

“I was really surprised,” Rickey said. “They were really good at the mathematics and plugging the information into the equations, but they didn’t really understand the lab in terms of what was actually happening.”

The classic model for undergraduate science education features a lone professor standing before a lecture hall dispensing the laws and equations that students must master to advance in science, or at least to pass the class. But consider an experiment detailed by Carl Wieman, the Nobel laureate and White House adviser, during a recent talk at AAAS: