One of the things I love most about my background is the rich varied experiences I have had. Mentors along the way cautioned me that I needed to focus; that because I was engaging in such diverse fields (chasing my passions) and not narrowing my focus I was making myself less marketable. They were wrong. I have found by being interested in many aspects of education I have gained an expertise that is needed in a variety of arenas and as a result get to called upon to participate in a wide range of exciting tasks. Every so often I get asked to do something that is at the heart of what I love. My most recent gig fits in that category.
As I look back over my career there have been only a couple things I have done that ranked "way cool" in my mind. One was writing for profit for the George Lucas Foundation. When I got the check that had that name on it, I just sat there thinking ...wow. I actually framed the check. Working for the George Lucas Foundation would be dream job number 1 for me. The second "way cool" thing took place last week. It began when I walked into the National Science Foundation (NSF) and sat amongst a sea of scientists. They had me from hello. I was asked to serve on a panel that considered proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation's National STEM Education Digital Library (NSDL) program.
I am not allowed to talk about what panel I served on or any of the proposals, however, I can talk a little about the experience. First, if you ever get the opportunity to serve as a reviewer-take it. During the orientation I became keenly aware of just how awesome this experience was really going to be. Lee Zia, lead project director for NSDL at NSF led the event. His academic wit and engaging style was as entertaining as it was educational. The hit of the orientation was in the sharing of this mash-up Professor Eric Faden created with his students about copyright and fair use.
A Fair(y) Use Tale
A Fair(y) Use Tale
The level of discussion and diversity of views represented on the panel I served on was amazing. I was so stoked. In addition, I got to know some pretty talented individuals. For example, Charles Kazilek, Senior Research Professional at Arizona State, turned me onto a couple projects he leads: Ask a Biologist where Dr. Biology leads students through a comic book mystery and The Paper Project, which chronicles handmade and mould made paper images produced by a scanning-laser confocal microscope. Both projects are awesome for use with your students! The overall experience was very positive. I got to hang with real scienctists, learned how to write a solid grant proposal in terms of what NSDL is looking for, got turned onto the rich resources in NSDL, and many other resources that are the pet projects of those who attended. Maybe when I finish this dissertation I will go back and get that biology degree I always wanted.