As a postdoc, I was Co-PI and Project Manager for an NSF funded GK-12 program (Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education) at Kellogg Biological Station. My work with K-12 students and teachers made me passionate about equity in STEM fields and about training scientists to communicate with broad audiences. At DU, we are continuing our work with the K-12 community by bringing our science to middle school and high school classrooms in the Denver area. I'm delighted to co-coordinate DUSciTech, a free week-long STEM Summer Camp for minoritized and low income middle school girls. Read more about this program here: news.du.edu/science-and-fun. Former post-doc Dale Broder helped us develop tools to assess the efficacy of informal science experiences like DU SciTech for engagement and retention of girls in STEM fields (see publications). We also work actively within local school districts. For instance, virtual lab visits bring >180 students in a single day into our lab for an all day look at behavioral ecology research. Check out this quick video, highlighting how these experiences have impacted local students: http://youtu.be/xtlFoI9GCQo.
When we work with students and teachers, we focus on using our own work to dispel misconceptions about how evolution works. Our work on the consequences of changed ecology for the loss of throat coloration in sticklebacks emphasizes the idea that evolution is NOT goal-oriented and reaching ever-higher "up the evolutionary ladder". Instead, the loss of traits, can be strongly favored by selection. Our focus on rapid evolutionary change also makes the point that evolution does not always take millions of years - we can observe evolutionary changes, even changes in reproductive isolation, within our own lifetimes in natural populations!
In other work, together with the Murphy lab at DU, we're developing science education materials that might be useful to other ecologists and evolutionary biologists.
Broder E.D., Fetrow, K., Murphy, S., Hoffman, J.L., and Tinghitella, R.M. In review. Out-of-school program increases scientific self-efficacy in middle school girls. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.
Lehto, W.R., Murphy, S.M., Vidal, M.C.*, & Tinghitella, R.M. 2018. Life Tables, Darwin's Finches, and the dynamics of small island populations. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=987&id=987.
Vidal, M.C., Grenis, K., Lehto, W.R., Tinghitella, R.M. & Murphy, S.M. 2017. Butterfly Hunt: the role of density dependence in Batesian and Mullerian mimicry. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=946&id=946.
Grenis, K., Lehto, W.R., Murphy, S.M., Vidal, M.C. & Tinghitella, R.M. 2017. Animals on treadmills: the importance of basic research. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=926&id=926.
Tinghitella, R.M. 2015. How the cricket lost its song Part I. Published 'Data Nugget'. http://datanuggets.org/2015/06/how-the-cricket-lost-its-song/.
Tinghitella, R.M. 2015. How the cricket lost its song Part II. Published ‘Data Nugget’. http://datanuggets.org/2016/05/how-the-cricket-lost-its-song-part-2/.
Email Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in learning more or in having us come to your school.