As a former science researcher and part-time educator, Pam Huff wanted to gain an academic perspective on the issues facing science education. Through the research study she completed for her thesis, Huff engaged in interviews with science teachers, where she learned more about the challenges they face on a daily basis. Now, as she prepares to graduate, she looks forward to finding ways to advance the field, as well as increase funding, resources, and professional development opportunities available to science teachers.
Learn more about Pam Huff
Hometown: Anniston, Alabama
Activities (research or extracurricular):
My extracurricular activities are extensive, with much of my time spent on community service projects.
These include the Rotary Club of Morrisville, of which I am the community services president. In this position, I help find and coordinate community service projects in the Triangle area. Currently, we serve two schools, a middle school and an elementary school. For the college, we sponsored an all-staff thank you luncheon where Rotary members provided food, beverages, and thanks to school staff members. In elementary school, our club members provide boxes of ravioli to supplement the school’s “backpack buddy” program which provides weekend food to students in need.
I am also writing a grant for STEM extracurricular activities and summer camps for elementary students in partnership with a non-profit organization, Dream Academy.
Currently, another educator and I are assisting a teacher at the Edgecombe County Juvenile Correctional Facility. Here, we provide her with moral support as well as educational materials and teaching strategies that help her serve her student population. These teachers are struggling and in dire need of support.
I also work part-time for the Garner YMCA where I am “The Science Lady”. Here I explore science topics with children ages 3-14 on a weekly basis. I volunteer with the town of Cary in their Sister Cities program. This program was started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after World War II in hopes of spreading goodwill around the world through direct city-to-city interactions. Currently, Cary has five sister cities.
I also do strength training twice a week and play tennis as often as possible. I am currently learning to play ukulele, add to violin, cello and piano.
Why did you choose NC State College of Education?
I chose NC State College of Education after a very thorough doctoral research. science education programs. I’ve visited many open houses over a year-long period, and each time I’ve visited NC State, I’ve been warmly greeted and my questions answered thoroughly. I also discussed at length with my future adviser, [Alumni Distinguished Professor of Science Education] Gail Jones on the critical nature of science education in K-12 schools. I was impressed with the quality of the program’s teaching staff and students, the flexibility of the courses, and the positions the students held after completion. The Department of STEM Education at NC State College of Education offered exactly what I was looking for.
Why did you choose your concentration?
I chose science education as my concentration because I was concerned about the direction of K-12 science education in the United States, especially compared to the rest of the world. As a former researcher and part-time teacher, I wanted to understand issues from an academic perspective, so that I could help solve some of our problems and contribute to the conversation through research studies. .
What’s your next step? What are your plans after graduation?
My current plan is to stay with the YMCA on a part-time basis while I explore other opportunities. My goal is to find a position where I can use my skills and knowledge, wherever that may be. The advantage of being an older graduate is that I have the opportunity to see the big picture and take the time to find the right person.
What do you hope to accomplish in your field?
I would like to address the importance of K-12 science education on the national stage in hopes of funding science education at a level similar to that seen in the post-Sputnik 1960s . I hope to advance the issues of science education and the need for additional state and local area funding for all schools, especially rural schools. This would include more resources for professional development opportunities for science teachers, money for equipment and facilities, and field trip opportunities for students.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at the College of Education?
The memories I have during my time at the College of Education can hardly be summed up by “a favorite” because, throughout my tenure, there has been one favorite event after another.
I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant with my research supervisor and another graduate student from PowerAmerica on NC State Centennial Campus. There I discovered wide bandgap semiconductor technology, engaged with students and faculty at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and heard a Nobel Laureate Speech to the student body for its long-standing efforts to develop LED technology.
I was fortunate enough to visit nanotechnology labs on Centennial Campus with my advisor and her team during NanoDays, an event that coincided with the Science Olympiad and encouraged high school students from across the state to participate. Students and teachers were very grateful and excited to learn from scientists doing cutting-edge research.
I have participated in research projects with intelligent and passionate colleagues in education, and from these research projects I have had the privilege of engaging with students, teachers and educators from all over the world. North Carolina. I had the opportunity to present research papers, posters and lectures while attending conferences at national, national and international meetings, where I conversed with internationally renowned education researchers.
I really enjoyed traveling abroad to Finland and Estonia, where we collaborated with K-12 teachers in local schools, as well as researchers and professionals in the university system. We even visited the US Embassy in Estonia!
I had the opportunity to work with professors from the College of Education as a teaching assistant and had the privilege of promoting and advertising the programs offered in the Department of STEM Education around the state.
Most memorable of all were the friendships I made with faculty, staff, graduate students, and teachers. These friendships will serve as the basis for many collaborations in the future!
Tell us about an experience you had with the College of Education that had the biggest impact on you or your career.
The most impactful experience I have had with the College of Education that will influence my career is working with teachers during my thesis research study. During these long and sometimes moving interviews with teachers, I learned a lot about the difficulties that our science teachers face on a daily basis. Whatever I pursue next in the field of K-12 science education, I will carry with me the voices of these teachers, their joys and their struggles.
What are your research interests? What inspired these interests?
My research interests include science programs in K-12 schools, with a focus on charter schools, which were inspired by working and volunteering at my children’s schools. Charter schools are of particular interest because of their unique structure, proliferation, and ability to focus on the needs of the individual, a quality that helped my challenged son grow into the successful young man I it is today.
Why did you choose education?
I chose education because it is central to our societal survival. Education is what elevates us as a society because it guides us towards rational and inclusive thinking, allowing us to see through different perspectives new possibilities for the future.