Introducing the new ‘Lunch With A Scientist’ episode library

Introducing the new ‘Lunch With A Scientist’ episode library

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A shark scientist, hurricane researcher, and archaeologist walk into a bar… No, this isn’t the plot of the latest Samuel L. Jackson movie; it’s several of our latest “Lunch With A Scientist” episodes!

Looking for a way to bring real-world science to your classroom? “Lunch With A Scientist” is our biweekly YouTube series that brings discussions with professional scientists right onto your device or into your classroom. The aim is to provide an inside glimpse into the minds of STEM professionals and bring awareness to students about the possibilities of careers in science. 

Now, we’ve made it easier to find what you’re looking for with the new “Lunch With A Scientist” library at www.lunchwithascientist.org. The new site allows you to easily navigate through our 60-plus episodes with a simple search tool or by a filterable topic grid. 

Want to show your class an episode on careers in life and environmental sciences? That will give you 33 episodes to choose from. What about pursuits in health, medicine, and genetics? That will give you talks with 16 professionals in that field.  

This searchable database was brought to you as a direct result of donations from our generous supporters, and we very much want to keep this valuable resource free to our community. With that in mind, we’re announcing three sponsorship opportunities for future “Lunch With A Scientist” episodes, part of our digital resource library that receives thousands of views each month. 

Here are the three sponsorship levels and what you will receive with each one: 

  • Bronze ($250): We’ll link your business or organization in the video description and mention it in the introduction. 
  • Silver ($500): In addition to a link in the video description and mention, we’ll include your logo in the thumbnail image. 
  • Gold ($1,000): We’ll read an advertisement script that you provide or we write, in addition to your logo and link. 

We’d also like to remind you that “Lunch With A Scientist” is a valuable tool for teachers. 

We can arrange a video meeting with a scientist from a field that matches your curriculum and have your students submit questions they’ll answer after the presentation. 

Teachers can begin a research project unit with a Lunch With A Scientist talk, which is a great way to introduce students to the field and show them what kind of research is possible. After watching the talk, you can move into a full-length Headwaters Research Program or lead one of your own.

You can also use the talks as a standalone activity; each talk includes a student investigation activity and a list of associated NGSS-aligned resources. You can use a talk as a one-time exercise to fill a class block or use it for 2-3 classes by incorporating the resources.

Download our program proposal for more information, or schedule a meeting with us to discuss. If you’re interested in sponsoring an episode, email Program Director Jenn Cotton at jenn@headwatersscienceinstitute.org

My up-close-and-personal tour of NASA a testament to hands-on science learning

My up-close-and-personal tour of NASA a testament to hands-on science learning

Growing up along the Space Coast of Florida has allowed me to watch many historic launches, visit Space Camp, and explore the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. All of these experiences furthered my passion for science.

Those experiences never stop when you dedicated your life to science.

For me, it continued when I was given the incredible opportunity recently to take an up-close-and-personal tour of the NASA Corrosion Engineering Laboratories with one of our Lunch With A Scientist featured presenters, Dr. Eliza Montgomery.

This tour brought me face to face with the Artemis 1 rocket, due to launch this month from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The Artemis 1 rocket is the first integrated test of NASA’s deep-space exploration system. The Artemis program will launch in a series that will enable humans to return to the Moon and eventually Mars. 

Neil Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon (me pictured below next to his space suit). His famous quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, was heard around the world.

The Artemis Missions are the next leap mankind will take. 

“Very few times in someone’s life is there a giant leap where you get where you want to go immediately, its baby steps. Keeping your eye on the prize will get you there. No one’s path out there is necessarily straight” 

Dr. Eliza Montgomery

It’s this type of hands-on learning that makes science such an intriguing and important pursuit. I’ve been fortunate enough to have these types of experiences throughout my journey into science education, and I feel very blessed to be able to bring real-life scientific experiences to the students of Headwaters. 

The need for future scientists is constantly growing. We need young minds to step up and become the next generation of innovators. Your path starts with you. Headwaters Science Institute can help you take this first step. We offer many opportunities for students to get involved in research. Registration is open for our Summer Research Experience. Follow your passion for science and find the steps you need to take your giant leap. 

Jennifer Cotton

Jennifer Cotton

Program Director

Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Ever wonder about the birds that call your backyard home? Looking for an activity that’s fun, free and easy to fill some downtime over the winter break?

Headwaters Science Institute has you covered with our new Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge! Over the last week of the year, from Dec. 27-31, we’ve created a challenge to keep students outside and engaged scientifically over winter break. This challenge will guide students through the scientific research process, all while using data gathered in their own backyard.

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water

To take part in our Winter Backyard Bird Challenge, you will need to have a bird feeder nearby where students can observe avian visitors. We recommend having your bird feeder set up at least five days before the start of the challenge, so that birds have time to locate the feeder and get used to its presence.

Over the course of the challenge, students will record what birds they observe at their feeder. Students can then submit their data to Headwaters, and will use the data they and their peers collect to answer the research question they developed at the beginning of the challenge. Click here to register for the challenge. 

To get a head start on our Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge, please review our Bird Feeder video to learn more about why it’s important to study birds and instructions on how to make a DIY bird feeder. Then, review our Pre-lesson Activity for a short reading assignment that will help your student get ready for our challenge. 

This post will serve as the home for this challenge, and we will post updates and links in this space to guide students throughout the process. The schedule of events for the Winter Backyard Bird Challenge is as follows:

Day 1: Monday, December 27 

Learn how to ask scientific questions and design your research project. Click here for your guide.

 

Day 2: Tuesday, December 28 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST 

Community Interaction & Data Collection. Watch the replay here

 

Day 3 Wednesday, December 29: 

“Lunch with a Scientist” with Mark Stanback: Biology Professor at Davidson University. View the talk here. Find the activity worksheet here

 

Day 4 Thursday, December 30: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Mark Stanback Q and A 

 

Day 5 Friday, December 31: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Bird feeder results and drawing conclusions. 

 

We are so excited for your student to be joining us on this research adventure. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information about the Headwaters Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge. Happy bird watching!

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water
Science Mentor Jasmine Speaks to the Value of Hands-on Learning

Science Mentor Jasmine Speaks to the Value of Hands-on Learning

If you had told the teenage me that I could earn a living by catching, counting, and measuring fishes and invertebrates, I most certainly would not have believed you – yet I found myself trying to convince middle and high school students just that. A career in research performing observational and experimental studies in the field was unknown to me until my third year as an undergraduate student. This revelation sent me down an exhausting, but exhilarating and rewarding, path of studying aquatic ecology. In this new chapter, my office was a river decorated with cattail and willow, regularly visited by heron, beaver, and osprey. I could not be happier, and I wanted to spread this information with young students. 

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water

I was eager to work with Headwaters Science Institute as a mentor because I wanted to share with students the vast possibilities that exist in the field of scientific research. I hoped they would find wonder in natural environments that would instill curiosity and excitement. This anticipation was met as I helped students complete their projects in an incredibly short period of time – one week for 6th and 7th grade students from Sacramento Country Day and two weeks for 12th grade students at College Preparatory School.

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water

From study design to data collection and analysis, the level of collaboration and teamwork that occurred within groups at College Preparatory School was amazing. The students were impressive both virtually in the classroom and in-person in the field. As I helped a group of students collect aquatic invertebrates from a stream and sort them by taxonomic group, I drew parallels between the research they were performing as high school seniors and the research I conducted as a graduate student. This program is so valuable because it exposes students to experiences that cannot be taught through lectures and allows them an opportunity to learn by engaging with nature and their classmates.

Jasmine Williamshen

Jasmine Williamshen

Science Mentor

Sacramento Country Day 7th Graders Learn About Riparian Habitats

Sacramento Country Day 7th Graders Learn About Riparian Habitats

Headwaters Science Institute was excited to host our second program with Sacramento Country Day School in October! We combined digital classroom lessons with a fun field day of in-person data collection to help the 7th graders design projects focusing on the interactions between biotic and abiotic factors in riparian habitat. Our programs emphasize the complete scientific process, and students learned how to ask a scientific question, develop a research plan, collect their data, and interpret the results from their data to find an answer to their question. As one student commented at the end of our program, they learned that “ science is more than just testing things and getting results.”

Working with their team of fellow classmates and under the guidance of Headwaters staff, UC Davis graduate students, and local scientists, each group did an excellent job through every step of the process. They were intrigued by the relationships in and around the American River and asked questions like: How does the pH and depth of the American River affect the aquatic macroinvertebrates found in the river?, How does water temperature affect plant growth?, and How does the amount of rocks in an area affect the flow rate of water?.

This program, like all of Headwaters’ student-driven research programs, highlights the benefits of moving beyond the normal classroom experience for science learning. Following this program, 90% of the students said they like science more than they did before the program!

We continue to work with teachers and schools to provide these unique science opportunities to middle and high school students this school year and beyond! Sacramento Country Day teachers called this a “great experience to get students out in the field and working with graduate students”. We encourage teachers to reach out to discuss options on how we can bring these opportunities to your students as well – either virtually or in person!

David Dimitrie

David Dimitrie

Program Director