Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching March Update

I’ve been in the Netherlands for nearly 2 months now! My goal is to blog at least monthly to give an update on what I am doing and learning (February update).

Adventures & Learning Opportunities

March was dedicated to reaching out to schools and museums to organize visits and meetings. I successfully scheduled some school and museum visits, as well as meetings with the education department at two science museums. My school visits were quite interesting. I visited two MBOs (vocational school, community college level) and a primary school, and also met with a secondary school teacher. It was great to see a variety of settings and speak with teachers. Even though my work is not around vocational education, I was very impressed with the MBOs and how they are structured. It seems like there is a good sense of community among the teachers and students; from initial observations, it seems like students would have a harder time getting lost in the shuffle, versus the community colleges I am familiar with in California. At the primary school, I saw a grades 1-2 class, which translates to Pre-k/K. Of course, the cuteness factor was the best part!

In March, I was able to visit more museums, including several art museums, the beach, and a couple windmills. I even took a weekend trip to Germany. Unfortunately, I was also out of adventure commission for a little over a week when covid finally got me. Thankfully during that time, I was well stocked with groceries, tea, online tasks, and books! With our warm and dry weather (50s and 60s, almost no rain) in March, I have gone out on many bike rides to local parks and to two windmills. It has been lovely to enjoy the sun and get a break from the rain and gloom.

Lonneker Mollen in Enschede

I also started taking a free masters-level online course called “Introduction to Citizen Science & Scientific Crowdsourcing” offered by the University College London. It is an introduction to citizen science as an academic discipline and way to involve the community in science, and goes into much more detail on creating and managing citizen science projects. It has been very informative so far.

Naturalis Biodiversity Center

One of the highlights of this month was visiting Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden! It was unlike any other science or natural history museum I have ever visited. Rather than large open museum floors, I was guided along a path to see the history of life on Earth. I started deep under the ocean with a giant squid and made my way through water, land, air, the history of Earth’s structure, dinosaurs, the ice age, seduction, and death. I loved that I did not have to expend mental energy figuring out where to go next, so I relaxed into the journey. The ground floor of the museum also has a section called Live Science which is open to the public for free! In this area, there are scientists who are working on projects and are available to answer questions and share their work. This section also houses the Dino Lab, where scientists are cleaning and studying a triceratops skeleton. I loved speaking with one of the scientists and asking them lots of questions about their work, especially the interaction between their scientific work and the public. Naturalis also has many online resources; I’m planning to dig in more in April. (Check out my Instagram story highlights for the full adventure)

Complete T-Rex skeleton at Naturalis!

Science Perceptions Survey

I am still gathering some preliminary thoughts on science and scientists through this anonymous Science Perceptions Survey. I am hoping to gather data from a wide range of individuals. If you are comfortable, please share it with others, including family members, personal children, and students.

See More Frequent Updates

I post more frequently on Instagram (@MsVenturino) as I adventure new places and learn new things. My research journal gets updated a couple times a week too; I created this to share with colleagues and family off social media and it has worked out really well. I am grateful for all the comments people have left to ask questions or just say hi.

Fulbright DAT

Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching February Update

In August 2020, I was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. I was supposed to travel to the Netherlands from January to June, 2021. However, due to covid, our Fulbright experiences were pushed back a year. After lots of covid worries, changes in plan, and shuffling, I finally arrived in the Netherlands on February 7, 2022!

I spent most of February settling into my new home in Enschede, in the east of the Netherlands. There have been many logistics, including getting my residency permit (visa), bank account, BSN number (Dutch version of social security number), uploading my covid vaccinations into the Dutch system, and picking up my bike. I used this time to get familiar with Enschede, the University of Twente, and a couple trips to explore other cities. I visited Utrecht for a Fulbright dinner and visited Amsterdam to explore a bunch of museums.

The working title of my project is: “Using Technology to Build Bridges in Science Education Between School and the Community.” My goal is to examine how to better engage students in real-world science learning and data collection through citizen science projects and other community-based endeavors. I will observe at schools across the Netherlands, meet with science teachers, visit museums and science centers, and learn more about citizen science. Of course, covid adds complications, as teachers are extra Tired and it is more difficult to be a visitor in schools. No matter what, I will make the best of this experience and learn all I can.

Giant stroopwafel in Enschede!

Furthermore, as part of my project, I am also gathering some preliminary thoughts on science and scientists through this anonymous Science Perceptions Survey. I am hoping to gather data from a wide range of individuals. If you are comfortable, please share it with others, including family members, personal children, and students.

I will try to regularly post about my travels and learning opportunities on Instagram (@MsVenturino). Additionally, I created these Slides as a sort of research journal and scrapbook, and as a way to share with work colleagues and family outside of social media. I will blog monthly about what I am learning.