Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman Visits, Speaks on Science Education

Carl Wieman

Carl E. Wieman, co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics, spoke at Michigan State University in mid-September as part of the STEM Alliance fall meeting, co-sponsored by the LEVERS - Howard Hughes Medical Initiative (HHMI), College of Natural Science and the CREATE for STEM Institute. The September 15 talk was open to the public, and more than 100 people attended. Dr. Wieman's PowerPoint presentation is available at the link below.

 Wieman and colleague Eric A. Cornell led a team of physicists at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado-Boulder, in a research effort that culminated in 1995 with the creation of the world's first Bose-Einstein condensate—a new form of matter. The work earned them, along with Wolfgang Ketterle, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who did early studies on the properties of the BEC, the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics.

Now at Stanford University, Wieman holds a joint appointment as Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education.  He has done extensive experimental research in atomic and optical physics.  His current intellectual focus is now on undergraduate physics and science education.  He has pioneered the use of experimental techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of various teaching strategies for physics and other sciences, and recently served as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

Dr. Wieman spoke on Taking a scientific approach to the learning and teaching of science.

"Guided by experimental tests of theory and practice, science and engineering have advanced rapidly in the past 500 years.  Guided primarily by tradition and dogma, the learning and teaching of these subjects meanwhile has remained largely medieval.  Research on how people learn is now revealing much more effective ways to learn, teach, and evaluate learning than what is in use in the traditional college class.  The combination of this research with information technology is setting the stage for a new approach to teaching and learning that can provide the relevant and effective science and engineering education for all students that is needed for the 21st century.  Although the focus of the talk is on undergraduate science and engineering learning and teaching, where the data is the most compelling, the underlying principles come from studies of the general development of expertise and apply widely." 


Dr. Wieman was recently featured in a National Public Radio interview.