This morning we learned that President Obama has nominated Dr. Carl Weiman (2001 Nobel laureate in Physics) as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This is the third Nobel laureate in the Obama administration. The first was Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy. The second is President Obama himself, I guess.

Back to Weiman. He is notable also for his track record in STEM education. Check out this article in InsiderHigherEd in 2006. In this article, Weiman is described as someone who thinks that the status quo in science education fails students. We should rethink teaching and approach it in a scientific fashion. This sentiment reflects what I’ve been hearing at NSF STEP meetings for years.

More about Weiman from the above article. He believes education should be redesigned with three things in mind.

  • First, reduce the cognitive load on students by slowing down the delivery of ‘content’, providing visuals, and helping students organize information by providing such organization as it’s presented (this made me think about concept maps as I read this).

  • Second, teach in a way that addresses students’ beliefs and preconceptions about science and makes connections between the concepts in a lecture and the world.

  • Third, actively engage with students personally and help them process ideas.

This opinion from 2006, informed through scholarship and experience, agrees with much of what I’ve learned from scholarship on learning STEM.