Monday, March 9, 2015

New (Old) Stat Ed - QME Student: Meet Mike!

Hi everyone!

Mike Huberty with his family.
My name is Mike Huberty.  Like Jonathan, I am in my first year of the Statistics Education (QME) program at the University of Minnesota.  My path to this program has also been an adventure, though my path has been different than Jonathan's. 

I earned by bachelors degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Minnesota in 1991 and got my Masters degree in teaching math and physics from the University of St. Thomas in 1993.   I have taught mathematics, statistics, and science to mostly high school students since then – Totino-Grace H.S. in Fridley, MN (1993-1998); Mounds View H.S. in Arden Hills, MN (1998-present); and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN (2005-2006).

In 2002, I was the math and science curriculum director for Mounds View Public Schools when I received a brochure for a new course titled "Becoming a Teacher of Statistics."  As we were planning to implement A.P. Statistics that fall, I enrolled in that course with two colleagues from our school district.  Joan Garfield taught that course and started a connection that continues to this day.

"Stat Chat" Stat-O-Lantern, 2014
Since that time, I kept in contact with Dr. Garfield – from inviting her to observe our high school statistic students' project presentations to attending monthly "Stat Chat" gatherings of college professors interesting in improving introductory statistics.  In the fall of 2011, I piloted the CATALST curriculum with high school students, and was impressed by what the students could conceptually understand without the more formal A.P. Statistics training.  When I attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the Stat Ed program in the fall of 2012, I decided then that I needed to do what Dr. Garfield has asked me to do for the past ten years – join her PhD program!

This has been an exciting, and exhausting, year.  I am now a full-time student in the Statistics Education program at the University of Minnesota.  I am also still teaching part-time at Mounds View H.S.  I love teaching!  It is a passion!  And I can't fully give up my science background as I am still involved with the Science Olympiad program – organizing science competitions for students in grades 2 through 12 and teaching Lego robotics in the summer to kids ages 9-11.

Nothing in life is better than helping the next generation learn!  In fact, it is a privilege.

:-)  Mike

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Stat Ed - QME Student: Meet Jonathan!

I wish this was my dog. Alas, it is not. I'm a cat guy anyway.

I’m Jonathan Brown and I’m in my first year of the Stat Ed – QME program.  My path into this program has been quite an adventure, and I’m very happy to be here!

Growing up and heading into undergrad, I had aspirations to figure out the Universe at the most fundamental level, as well as protect the Earth from potentially apocalyptic asteroids.  Accordingly, I earned a Bachelor of Science from UW-Madison in 2009, majoring in Astronomy-Physics, with a Business minor.  I conducted astronomy research from 2007-2009, analyzing quasar spectra in an attempt to characterize hydrogen gas clouds through their interference with said spectra.  I was fortunate to spend a year teaching physics through the Physics Department's Peer-Mentor-Tutor program, providing educational support to first-generation students and students from underrepresented groups enrolled in introductory physics courses.

While the joy of cosmology and physics never left me, issues on the social side of science sparked my interest, and I sought to dive into other aspects of science, other than the science itself.  This included teaching, policy, and ethical issues.  This lead to me earning a Master of Science in Science and Technology Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 2012, with a Public Health minor.  I focused my attention on nanotechnology policy, and conducted research on the public perception of nanotechnology in food.  I was additionally a statistics teaching assistant for two half-semester classes and loved it. 

Following my Master’s degree, I stayed at the Humphrey School for two years as a research fellow, working on issues of nanotechnology in food, women’s experiences in science and technology policy careers, and the impact of university research on domestic food safety.

As I pondered my next steps, I realized that I missed teaching and had unexplored passions for improving education, specifically, quantitative education.  I began fondly thinking back to my times teaching physics in undergrad and statistics in my Master’s program.  Following recommendations from peers, I discovered the Stat Ed group within the QME program and it struck me like an inspirational lightning bolt that this was where I next wanted to be.  I strongly desired to not only teach quantitative material, but to make such teaching better and positively impact students as much as possible.

My primary research interest within statistics education is teaching assistant and instructor development, but I am happy researching numerous areas, issues, and topics.  Being given the opportunity to teach statistics while conducting and potentially implementing research to improve statistics education is awesome!

Outside of school and work, my life is filled with two other activities: fitness and improv.  Among the joys and sanity I derive from fitness and sports, sprinting is my favorite pastime.  I hope to indefinitely compete in friendly track meets in the 200 meter, 400 meter, and possibly the mile.  I've been training in and doing improv for over a year, and have enjoyed successes and experiences that I never could have imagined.  I’m currently a part of one improv group and am hoping to stay indefinitely connected to the stage.  Additionally, as a wonderful externality, my teaching has definitely strengthened due to my improv training and experience.  Many improv principles directly apply to teaching of any kind!