As a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, I have developed and taught a new course in the Earth and Planetary Science department; a Data Science connector course EPS 88: PyEarth: A Python Introduction of Earth Science. The connector courses are smaller (in both size and credit hours) and complement the Data 8: Foundations of Data Science course which focuses on building fluency in technical computing, data structures, and statistical concepts. EPS 88 introduces students to earth science who might not otherwise be exposed to it. Through a series of active learning modules using Jupyter Notebooks students learned about the wide span of time scales earth scientists study, gained an appreciation for the dynamic nature of our planet, explored various sources and applications of geophysical data, and assessed an important local earth hazard (i.e. earthquakes). Designing a class from the ground up was a fantastic opportunity. I’m very proud of the materials we put together; for example a web-book and class notebooks.
At all stages of my academic career, I have sought opportunities to gain teaching and science-communication experience in both formal and informal education settings. As an undergraduate at SUNY Geneseo, I was a laboratory instructor for ASTR 101 Introductory Astronomy Lab. This was a great introduction to teaching through student-centered active-learning. I gave pre-lab lectures on the material and assisted students individually as they worked through the lab, asking questions to further challenge them and deepen their understanding. During my Ph.D., I was a teaching assistant for the UC San Diego courses SIO:1 The Planets and SIO:113 Introduction of Computational Earth Science. These experiences were an interesting juxtaposition between a large lecture course and a small, hands-on class. In both cases, I found ways to connect with students individually. As part of UC San Diego’s Splash program, a lab mate and I designed and taught an hour-long informal education module for local middle and high school students on Earth’s magnetic field that included material from our research. We had a blast sharing our research with young but eager students.