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Getting Smart Podcast

Jan 8, 2020

Today, Tom Vander Ark is speaking with Chad Dorsey about modeling and data science in STEM education!

Chad grew up a science geek; he loved the lakes and meadows of summer camp, he studied physics in college, and he did doctoral work in geophysics at Oregon. Later on in life, he taught science in Maine and Vermont before taking on the leadership of the Concord Consortium. For more than a decade, Chad has been leading Concord’s effort to use tech to transform STEM education by empowering learners to ask and answer their own questions.

In today’s episode, Chad talks to Tom about the math education that all young people need — which looks like less calculating and more modeling, fewer small problems, and more data science. He also speaks about many of the incredible data science tools from the Concord Consortium and how they’re transforming education for many young learners, helping them to become active agents of discovery!


Key Takeaways:

[:14] About today’s episode!

[1:00] Tom welcomes Chad Dorsey to the podcast!

[1:11] What made Chad a science geek?

[1:55] Why did Chad choose to study physics in college?

[2:25] How did Chad end up in Oregon?

[2:58] What originally drew Chad to geophysics?

[4:17] How did Chad get a job in Vermont teaching?

[5:02] What interested Chad about the role of leading the Concord Consortium?

[6:03] Chad tells the origin story of the Concord Consortium.

[8:05] Chad explains how they think about the mission of Concord these days.

[9:12] Chad speaks about one of their many focus areas at the Concord Consortium: tools for inquiry.

[11:55] Chad elaborates on why a simulation like the molecular workbench is so important.

[13:07] How’re the Concord’s simulations similar to or different from the PhET sims from CU?

[14:20] Chad speaks about their fun engine that explores heredity and genetics by breeding virtual dragons!

[15:05] Why is it important for secondary students to dive into modeling?

[18:00] Chad speaks about their data platform, CODAP, a Common Online Data Analysis Platform, and explains what students use it for.

[20:14] Chad speaks about one of their really cool tools that models tectonic plates.

[22:01] Chad speaks about another one of their cool data science tools.

[23:12] Chad speaks about some of their cool engineering design software applications.

[24:00] How does math fit into STEM education? And what does Chad believe we should be doing less and more of in education regarding it?

[28:20] Why are we still teaching math using the same old pathway (i.e. memorizing a set of rules and formulas)? And is there a better way to organize a secondary math sequence?

[33:32] Chad describes what STEM education should actually look like for students.

[37:23] Chad gives his ideas and thoughts on how to help teachers be successful in this new environment approach to teaching.

[38:58] Are school and classroom visits beneficial for teachers that are trying to implement big changes in instruction?

[40:50] Is Chad seeing lots of uptake on the tools that Concord is sharing? And is he optimistic about the future?

[43:21] Tom thanks Chad for joining the podcast!


Mentioned in This Episode:

Chad Dorsey

The Concord Consortium

PhET Simulations from the University of Colorado Boulder



For More on the Topic of Place-Based Education, Listen to:

Getting Smart Season 2, Episode 16: “Experiencing Place-Based Education at Teton Science Schools


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