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Dr. Sharon Schleigh Recognized for Innovative College Science Teaching

              Dr. Sharon Schleigh in the Chemistry & Physics Department was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Award for Innovative College Science Teaching by the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc. The award will be presented to Dr. Schleigh at the 2014 HASTI Conference in Indianapolis on February 6. Recipients are recognized as outstanding college science teachers who exhibit a passion for innovative science teaching.

The Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc. was formed 44 years ago in 1969. The organization serves as a professional association linking science teachers in K-12 classrooms together, along with their counterparts in higher education. The group provides a forum for improving science teaching in Indiana and enables teachers to address common problems encountered across the state. It also provides a voice for science teachers to address political issues, such as the teaching of evolution.

              Originally from Hawaii, Dr. Schleigh earned her bachelor’s in Natural Science at the University of Hilo, a master’s in curriculum & instruction at the University of Phoenix, a master’s in space science and planetary sciences at the American Military University, and her doctorate in Science Education, Earth & Space Science from Arizona State University. Dr. Schleigh joined the faculty at Purdue Calumet in 2012. Prior to this she was an Assistant Professor of Science Education at East Carolina University, a Science Methods instructor at Arizona State University and a Faculty Associate at Hawaii Pacific University. Dr. Schleigh is a co-author of the NSTA book titled Scientific Argumentation in Biology: 30  Classroom Activities and has been a leader in science education through her work with professional development and her interest in science education outreach. Aside from teaching astronomy, physics and science methods for educators, she has worked on projects such as the NASA Deep Impact project, the FINESSE (Faculty Institute for NASA Earth & Space Science Education) project, and the Galileo Teacher Training Program, providing both pedagogical and content training for educators and their students.  She has been involved in providing summer workshops for science and math educators such as CREATE (Classrooms Reaching Enquiry through Astronomy & Telescope Education) since 2005, involving K-12 students in her workshops to embed real experiences for the workshop participants to practice what they are learning. She has served as a State Science Fair judge, an international Science Fair Mentor, a Regional Science Fair Director in North Carolina, as the Regional Science Olympiad Director in Indiana, and as the Director of Mentor Coordination and Mentor Trainer for the International Virtual Science Fair for the Near East South Asia Collaboration of schools. This virtual science fair involves multiple universities across the United States and K-12 classroom students from over 50 countries. These efforts have led to her nomination for the Association of Science Teacher Educators Award of Outstanding Science Educator Mentor in 2011 and 2012.

Since arriving at PUC, she continues to study how people learn and engage in science, with a particular emphasis on how teachers present science in their classrooms. She has also been instrumental in redesigning the curriculum and pedagogical approach used in the Introduction to Physical Sciences sequence, which impacts every teaching candidate at the university. Dr. Schleigh is an expert in using technology to augment her teaching and has collaborated with PUC’s astronomers to incorporate the NIRo robotic telescope into classroom and research activities. As an instructor she has successfully integrated technology to allow students to participate in online discussions and to engage in inquiry that students find exciting and meaningful. The students become a part of the science rather than merely the learners of science by using real data and providing their own ideas and evidence to support their claims as they learn about the topics in their coursework. Her expertise in flip classroom courses is supported by her research background in scientific argumentation and her experience as a science as inquiry teacher. While she works with students pursing science careers, she enjoys working with STEM educators and future STEM educators to help them better prepare our future leaders and improve STEM education across the United States. She hopes to help make science a topic that more people find interesting and useful including those that come from underserved and underrepresented populations. It is with this in mind that she can be heard saying: “Science is fun, but more importantly, it is how we make informed decisions and learn to ask the ‘right’ questions. People should learn to question what they are told and to ask for meaningful evidence, even in everyday circumstances. Science is not just what happens in the classroom, but what happens in our everyday lives; and it is therefore something that everybody can and should be actively engaged in.”