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2018 – 2019

At the core of the Teachers Institute program is a series of collaborative seminars on subjects in STEM and the Humanities. Topics are requested by teachers based on what they think could enrich their classroom instruction. Several prestigious members of TU faculty subsequently submitted proposals to serve as seminar leaders. With input from TPS teachers and the leadership of the Teacher Steering Committee, four seminars were selected for the 2018-2019 seminar cycle.

Science and the Senses
led by Dr. Bob Howard
Professor Emeritus at the Department of Chemistry with the University of Tulsa

Everything we know, we know through our senses. But there are many things about the senses in everyday life that are not common knowledge. Have you ever wondered how we see colors, how cochlear implants work, or how we can feel the warmth of a fire while standing far away? How do we produce the vibrant colors of a painting, hear the soft sounds of a violin or taste the tangy flavor of a Mexican meal? To understand the senses, this seminar will draw upon all the STEM areas. Human senses give us a unique vantage point to study basic biology, chemistry and physics, and the sense systems of other creatures provide some provocative areas for investigation. (Do fish have a sense of smell?) While the seminar has a foundation in science, it will cover material applicable in curricular areas including the arts, literature and reading, and social sciences. The seminar is appropriate for all teachers K-12 and the teaching units are easily tailored to address standards in a variety of disciplines.

Quantitative Approaches as a Guide to Clear Thinking
led by Dr. Roger Blais
Retired Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Retired Professor of Physics

In an environment where students are bombarded with a confusing mix of facts, opinions, and unsubstantiated ideas, it’s important to explore how ideas can be tested quantitatively and checked for reasonableness without just looking up the answers.  This math-centric seminar will help you build an age appropriate toolkit to critically examine ideas.  Make math applicable by analyzing political claims about the amount the U.S. National Institute of Health spends on flu prevention, if an extra tax on Oklahoma fuel is reasonable, and other current events. 

Science Fiction Literature and Film
led by Dr. Sean Latham
Pauline McFarlin Walter Endowed Chair of English & Comparative Literature
Founding Director of the Oklahoma Center for Humanities at TU

Science fiction has become more than just a genre of fiction or film.  Instead, it’s now a rich collection of stories, symbols, ideas, images, and creative practices that help us think about how technology is transforming our everyday life.  We use these imaginative tools to create alternative worlds (as in Doctor Who), to redefine what it means to be human (as in Frankenstein), to imagine bleak futures (The Hunger Games), or dream utopias (The Black Panther).  Although often oriented toward the future, the past, or alien worlds, these works are actually about the ethical, technological, and cultural challenges we face here and now.   This seminar will draw on a variety of different novels, comics, films, games, and short stories to explore the work that science fiction does at the point where technology and imagination meet.  This means that curriculum units might extend from the arts and sciences to the humanities and engineering and can be developed for all grade levels.  We will focus, in particular, on fictions about time travel, genetic engineering, dystopia, and alternative ways of defining what it means to be human.  Among the works we’ll likely consider: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ursula Leguin’s Left Hand of Darkness, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca, and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.

Museum Exploration and American Values
led by Dr. Bob Pickering
Professor of Anthropology
Director, Museum Science and Management, University of Tulsa,
Adjunct Curator, Gilcrease Museum

Real objects, whether a drawer of pretty butterflies, a fossil of a long dead animal, artifacts from Native American cultures past and present, or important documents, paintings and photos that record important aspects of the American experience have the power to motivate and engage students of all ages. Textbooks and class lectures can cover the same subjects, but access to the real thing can engage students and reinforce teaching messages.

Museum have great resources and actively want to share them. This class will help you think about how objects from a museum in your area can benefit your teaching, regardless of age or grade level. Museum educators are your allies and are trained in “informal education” that focuses on object-based learning and inquiry. This class will 1.) Help you assess what museum resources could benefit your teaching, 2.) Make contact with the right museum staff person to help you, 3.) Integrate real objects in your teaching, 4.) Explore museum-based teaching examples from multiple sources, 5.) Introduce you to object-based learning ideas. 6.) Help you help students build observation skills and critical thinking.

Museum site visits and guest speakers from area museums will be part of this class.

The class will be taught by Bob Pickering, PH.D. who has more than 30 years’ experience in natural history, children’s, and American history and art museums. As curator/educator of Anthropology at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, he created activities, programs, and exhibits that were designed to appeal to young audiences. He also was responsible for evaluating the success of those programs.

Pickering has written two non-fiction anthropology books for children.  I Can Be An Archaeologist, published by Children’s Press and featured on “Reading Rainbow,” a PBS program for children. People of Ancient North America, is part of a three-volume series on ancient North America written for juvenile readers. In addition, Dr. Pickering was series editor for the Our Human Family series which included four books on major cultural themes. Similarly, he edited the Latin American Series, six books on aspects of culture in Mesoamerica and Latin America.