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Kelsey Beeghly, 2023-2034 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress, Photo by Jon Flemming

Five Questions with Kelsey Beeghly, the 2023-2024 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress.

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This post is by Kelsey Beeghly, the 2023-2024 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in central Florida and always had an interest in science. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, I joined Teach For America and accepted a position as a high school biology teacher in Brooklyn, New York. This two year commitment helped me understand the institutional barriers that limit access to opportunity, and motivated me to continue my career in education. With the knowledge and experience I gained there, I proceeded to teach middle school science and serve in an administrative role as a high school curriculum and assessment coordinator in Orlando, while simultaneously completing a Ph.D. in science education. I am passionate about equipping students with the scientific literacy necessary for responsible citizenship and advocating for equity in science education.

How has using primary sources changed your teaching?

Using primary sources has supported me both in understanding the nature of science myself and in providing opportunities for students to learn about the nature of science. Exposing students to primary sources that show the history and controversy surrounding the development of the scientific content knowledge they are learning about supports deeper conceptualizations about what science is and how society and science have been intertwined throughout history. Students are more likely to be engaged and interested because the history of science is naturally so interesting!

Why did you apply for the Einstein Fellowship?

I applied for the Einstein Fellowship because my beliefs strongly align to its mission of recruiting accomplished educators to help bridge the gap between policy and practice. I wanted to be able to use the network and experience gained in the fellowship to expand my professional knowledge and skills to better contribute to the improvement of science education.

What are your goals for your year as a Fellow?

I hope to contribute to the Library’s efforts to expand the reach of their primary sources in K-12 science classrooms. I would like to explore previously untapped resources that might provide rich and meaningful contexts for students to learn disciplinary core ideas while learning about the nature of science. Additionally, I plan to take advantage of the opportunity to learn about museum education and outreach from an insider’s perspective.

What advice would you give to teachers who want to use primary sources in classroom activities given the push to meet standards and ensure success on standardized tests?

Using primary sources, especially from the history of science, is a powerful engagement tool to help students form accurate conceptions about the nature of science. Be purposeful in choosing which primary sources to incorporate into your teaching and have a plan to encourage students to make sense of the source among themselves. Select sources that are relevant to students, that may be somewhat controversial, and that could lead to rich discussions and scientific argumentation. When students feel a deeper connection to science, their content learning will deepen as well.

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Comments

  1. Welcome, Kelsey! Your new colleagues at the Library are excited to learn from you and with you this year! We are looking forward to seeing what primary sources you discover–and to the ways your discoveries might engage other educators and students with the history and nature of science.

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