Scientific curiosity is necessary to inspire the next generation of young scientists. I did not begin to see the possibilities of scientific curiosity until I was 13, and only through a short summer camp. I did not feel very engaged in my science classes until sophomore year of high school, when I found a love for chemistry. Without the encouragement of my scientifically inclined family, I might have lost interest in science long before that chemistry class. As a woman, I hope young girls will be inspired to follow a path similar to mine. While women are 50% of the population, they are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. I believe that there are many more women out there who might have followed a similar path to mine, had they been given the encouragement and inspiration that I had.
Since high school, I have had the opportunity to work in several teaching environments including classroom work, one-on-one tutoring, and group work. In high school, I worked as a teaching assistant in my synagogue’s Hebrew school, where I worked with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. My senior year of high school, I tutored three home-schooled children in Hebrew, designing all lesson plans, activities, and tests. Between high school and college, I spent a year in Israel, as I knew engineering would make a semester abroad difficult. For three months of my time there, I volunteered in a grade school English class and after-school program for teenage kids in an underprivileged neighborhood. In the grade school, I sat in the class with the children, and helped them follow the lesson plan to enhance their learning experience. In the after-school program, I worked one-on-one with the students, assisting them with their math and English homework.
In college, I had two major teaching experiences. My senior year, I worked as a workshop coordinator for freshman chemistry students. The purpose of the workshop was to give students an extra hour of work per week to enhance their understanding of the subject. I also came up with example problems and challenge problems to complement their homework and better prepare them for exams. My senior year I was a TA for a junior level chemical engineering course. The work was similar to the workshop I taught, with the added responsibility of grading. In graduate school, I worked one-on-one with several undergraduate students. I designed a presentation on data analysis to help them understand the best ways to present different types of data. In my 4 years at Penn State, I mentored and trained 7 undergraduate students to help them complete their senior theses and independent studies. For one year, I collaborated with a 4th grade teacher at a nearby elementary school to create and implement an active science curriculum. I designed experiments, activities, and thought exercises for the class to help them better understand scientific concepts of their curriculum.
I completed my BS in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University and my PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University. I am prepared to tutor students in Math, Science, and Engineering at nearly all levels. I especially enjoy Algebra, Calculus and Chemistry.
Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University - Bachelors, Chemical Engineer
Graduate Degree: Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus - PHD, Materials Science and Engineering
ACT Math: 35
SAT Verbal: 730
My hobbies include reading, playing piano, biking, playing board games, and listening to music.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will start by talking to the student to get to know them a bit, including finding out what interests them. I will then take some time to find out why they think they need a tutor, and what they hope to gain from our sessions. I will establish that they should feel free to ask questions, give me feedback, and learn to enjoy the work we do together. I will do some starter problems to determine what level they are at and take notes on what I will need to do to prepare for meetings.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I will stay engaged with the student and draw on their interests to help them find meaning in sometimes tedious problems. I will have a collection of go-to activities that will help them get started on slow days and use them to take short breaks when needed. These activities may be just an easy problem, a riddle, or a comic related to their subject.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would start by taking a step back to determine what the skill is that they are having trouble with. If it is something separate than the problem at hand, I will make sure to address that skill or concept first. Once the baseline is established, I will consider different ways to approach the problem. I will draw on the student's strengths to determine the best approach. If the approach is unsuccessful, I will consider other ways to communicate with the student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Ask them questions so that they can become aware of what they already know. By using guided questions, the student will learn to ask the right questions to get to the answer. It also helps them to develop confidence in themselves as they answer questions I pose to them. I also find it to be helpful if the students can relate to the problem at hand. Math and science can be very abstract at times, and it is important for them to see how things are connected to their own world.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would look for ways that the subject can relate to their own interests and strengths. If the student can connect with the subject, they are likely to become engaged in the work.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I will ask the student to repeat back concepts to me. I will offer them to write it down if they prefer. Written explanations will be used in future meetings so that we can review what we have covered. At the beginning of each session with a student, I will check to make sure the topics we covered the previous week are still fresh in their minds.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When I tutor, part of my style is to ask the student guiding questions. This enables the student to think more independently as they find the solution. It helps gives them problem-solving skills. As I work with them, I will explain how I look at the problem, starting with what I know. This will teach them to do the same and enable them to work independently.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Children are naturally curious, and I like to tap into that curiosity. By encouraging them to ask questions and guiding them to make connections independently, I hope to inspire them to keep digging.