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 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

Winter field day students study ‘the importance of snow’

Winter field day students study ‘the importance of snow’

Students at the 2022 TEA Snow Science field day.

Headwater Science Institute’s winter of studying the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada continued last week with the completion of the Tahoe Expedition Academy Snow Science Field Program. 

It was two days of fun-filled and informative research, the first day for ninth- and 10th-grade biology students and the second for 11th- and 12th-grade earth science students. 

“I never knew what I skied on everyday was so complex,” one student said.

The days were a shortened version of Headwaters’ Research Experience, an immersive, months-long program where students develop a formal research paper, allowing students to see how snow depth and density is measured and what kinds of water-quality metrics can be measured from snow melt. 

Like the full Research Experience, these students then completed a mini research project of their own to experience how the scientific process works. 

Here are some more quotes from the two field days:

“I loved learning about how snow layers are formed and seeing it in real life.”

“I got to learn about the importance of snow and different factors [that can be measured] in snow. I got to be outside and have a blast.”

“I had a lot of fun and learned about albedo and its impact on rate of snow melt.”

Check out more photos from the camp here.   

‘This trip was really amazing’: Bay School Snow Science Camp kicks off 2022 programing

‘This trip was really amazing’: Bay School Snow Science Camp kicks off 2022 programing


Building a snow cave at the 2022 Bay School Snow Science Camp.

Do roads impact water quality in the snowpack? How does a forest or an open meadow change snowpack depth? 

These are just some of the questions students examined at the recently completed Headwaters Science Institute’s Bay School Snow Science Camp in the Sierra Nevada’s Olympic Valley – topped off with a healthy portion of cross country skiing, playing in the snow and even learning how to build an emergency snow shelter.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, from going out into the meadow of snow and taking samples, to cross country skiing,” Bay School camper Coco told Headwaters. “I learned so much over the course of this trip, especially about the chemicals in snow, such as pH and how that affects drinking water and the native biotic species.”  

The camp kicked off with students watching our Lunch With A Scientist talk with Dr. David Hill of Oregon State University to give them background on snow science and how we measure snow in the field. 

Arie Koshkin, a graduate student studying snow science at University of Nevada Reno, brought her expertise to the camp examining the effects of fire on snow pack. She even brought some cool instruments from her lab for the students to use. 

“I really enjoyed being in the snow and learning about its role – from the chemical composition of snow to skiing,” Arie, another camper, said. “I also met a lot of new people and found friends with similar interests in science. This trip was really amazing and I can’t wait to continue exploring science.” 

Check out more photos from the camp here.   

The “I” Word

If you are involved in education you’ve seen it. “Inquiry” is the gluten-free of the education world. Almost every new educational product or material comes certified that it contains “inquiry” and therefore its purported benefits. In a sea of Inquiry-based teaching strategies, it can be hard to figure out the most effective way at incorporating inquiry into your busy classroom. The following is a two-part guide towards maximizing the learning potential inquiry has to offer. At its root, inquiry is the way we study the world: ask questions, conduct experiments, and repeat until a Nobel Prize. The National Science Education Standards has about the same definition, “The diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work.” For those who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in such work, the exciting part is that there aren’t answers in the back of the textbook. Even the Internet and all of its awesome powers lacks answers to our questions. Scientists repeatedly run into roadblocks and need wrack their brains for ways to test their hypotheses. Moreover, every new discovery we make unlocks countless more questions to be answered and experiments to be done. This is experience is what “inquiry” represents and has subsequently spawned thousands of teaching methods trying to harness it. The closer to students can come to having an authentic scientific inquiry experience, the more effective the lesson will be at teaching content and skills. While young students may not be able to research to most groundbreaking topics, they can still ask original questions and come up with creative ways to test their hypotheses. Even if some scientist has already answered your students question in exhaustive detail, telling them such would only kill their curiosity and their desire to overcome obstacles that prevent them from answering their questions. Herein lies the key to successfully teaching inquiry, try not to answer students questions, even if the answer is seemingly obvious. Instead, ask them questions back, guide them towards discovering answers themselves, and push them to build off what they learned with new questions. Using inquiry effectively comes down to ownership. Once students feel that they are asking and answering their own original questions, then we as educators can push them to learn even the most difficult content and skills along the way. Next week we will delve into background information and effective strategies to prime students for inquiry-based projects.