Sian Ritchie of the Palouse Discovery Science Center demonstrates how a comet is created
Sian Ritchie of the Palouse Discovery Science Center demonstrates for visiting teachers how a comet is made

Our expert on place-based education, Associate Professor David Greenwood, contends that students learn more on a so-so field trip than they learn during a day in the classroom.   And a really great field trip?  Nothing beats it.  Certainly teachers who participated in this summer’s two  science institutes in Pullman will remember their outings to the Snake River Canyon.  You can see some of what they saw in the photos posted on the college Shutterfly site.  Commentary on the canyon’s  dramatic history was provided by writer-geologist Kirsten Peters, who reports that never once did the teachers ask a question common to college freshmen who take the tour:  “Is that going to be on the test?”

Institute participants also visited the Palouse Discovery Science Center, where among other fun stuff, they tilted their heads toward the “night sky” in a tiny inflatable planetarium before going to WSU’s Jewett Observatory to gaze at the real thing.

Helping keep the institutes’ packed programs on track was 2008 Ferrucci Distinguished Educator Alice Boerner, a Hoquaim Central Elementary teacher and adjunct WSU faculty member. Not for nothing is Alice known as the Field Trip Queen.

Happy landing
Sarah Penney, our former director of recruitment, has reported to her new job as diversity, outreach and communications coordinator for a five-year program called Idaho EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research).  She’s at the University of Idaho, working to give underrepresented populations, including low-income and first-generation students, more access to the STEM professions — aka science, technology, engineering and math.  Sarah’s position at the College of Education was due to end because of budget cuts, and we’re delighted that she landed in a nearby position so fitting to her talents and interests.