Nobel Laureate talks science education Jan. 16 at UBC Okanagan

Carl Wieman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, will visit UBC Okanagan January 16 for a free public lecture about science education in the 21st century.

“Science has advanced rapidly in the past 500 years,” Wieman says. “Guided primarily by tradition and dogma, science education meanwhile has remained largely medieval. Research into the ways people learn is now revealing how many teachers badly misinterpret what students are thinking and learning from traditional science classes and exams.”

However, Wieman says, research is also providing insights about how to do much better.

“The combination of research with modern information technology is setting the stage for a new approach that can provide the relevant and effective science education for all students needed for the 21st century,” says Wieman.

In his presentation, Wieman will discuss the failures of traditional educational practices, even as used by “very good” teachers, and the successes of some new practices and technology that characterize this more effective approach, and how these results are highly consistent with findings from cognitive science.

Wieman joined the University of British Columbia this year as the Director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. He received the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award in 2001, the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. University Professor of the Year Award in 2004, and the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Oersted Medal in 2007. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and chairs the U.S. Academy Board on Science Education.

Tickets to Wieman’s lecture are free, and are available only by online registration at The presentation is at 4 p.m., Wednesday, January 16, in the UBC Okanagan Student Services Centre Lecture Theatre (SSC026). Space is limited.

The Distinguished Speaker Series is funded by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences endowment fund at UBC Okanagan. The series presents humanitarian aid activist Dr. Samantha Nutt on January 28. More information about the series is available online at

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