Showcase Interview

Alan Scott

Alan Scott

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Alan Scott teaches Physics and labs, Statics, Strength of Materials, Astronomy, Geology, and Soil Mechanics. Physics, his specialty, is one of his favorite courses to teach.

Scott has many different ways of helping his students “get it”. Probing the students with questions and letting them expand their minds is his way to see the students’ understanding of an idea. Alan challenges his students with different case studies that will allow them to grasp the concept of what they are learning. Because each student has his or her own way of learning, he uses different learning modes, such as hands-on-labs or sharing readings from books, or ways to help his students learn the concepts in the way they learn best. Scott’s enthusiasm brightens every single one of his classes.

Scott has one favorite teaching strategy. He begins courses by researching the progress of students and their current misconceptions. For example, he bends the minds of students by showing them a distorted ruler. In some odd way, the ruler is not right in the measurements. Students must figure out what is exactly wrong with the ruler measuring. The naiveté of students makes it an interesting game and the solution is somewhat difficult to find. The method results in appreciation for measurement theory. Learning and understanding precise and accurate measurements, along with instrument calibration, will help students grasp the whole idea of measurement. Besides this innovative teaching approach to measurement theory, Scott helps guide student’s explorations of nature.

In addition to using the “bad rulers” as a useful teaching technique, Alan recently has been involved with a project called the Astro-Compass Science Initiative. It involves interacting with area elementary school teachers to improve their teaching of select topics in astronomy and geology. The main aspect of this program was an in-service summer course, elementary teachers and painting a science-related, educational mural on a local elementary school playground.