Cultivating a Curious Scientific Mind

The necessity to acquire a scientific knowledge base often leads to instruction over-emphasizing vocabulary, definitions and algorithmic problem solving. While these fundamentals help students supply correct answers on basic science tasks, they stop short of producing inquirers who are at home asking productive questions, dialoguing with peers and mentors, and articulating explanatory scientific claims supported by evidence and reasoning. Once developed, these intellectual capacities equip learners to move past static knowledge bases as science advances, yet keep them grounded in truth and sound reasoning. Moreover, practicing these skills instills in learners the generative gift of inquiry, which they carry to their every subsequent conversation. This workshop will equip teachers with one such method, a highly effective curricular sequence and pedagogy for teaching first year Chemistry in a classical school. Such an approach welcomes hesitant, passive students into actively conversing over shared experiences, sense-making of data from description to explanation, and working as a community to harmonize contrasting accounts into coherent and defensible models of scientific phenomena. Through this approach, teachers are transformed from content providers to skilled mentors and lead questioners, and learners experience science not as a stagnant body of knowledge to acquire, but a dynamic and active practice applicable to inquiry.

Mandy Taylor

Mandy Taylor is a chemical educator, engineer and entrepreneur. At Regents, she leads students to master chemical concepts and grow their verbal and quantitative reasoning, equipping them to know, love and practice the true, good and beautiful. She specializes in recovering, synthesizing and implementing in the classroom both time-tested methods such as Socratic questioning and research driven practices like Modeling Instruction. Her teaching practice has been influenced by an apprentice year with the Circe Institute’s Master Teacher program, prior posts at Wilson Hill Academy and Regents, wide reading in the classical and chemical education literature, and extensive work with young people and parents in religious, charitable and scouting organizations. She is a member of the American Modeling Teachers Association, the Society for Classical Learning and Tau Beta Pi. Outside of education, Taylor co-founded and led product development for specialty manufacturer Fulcrum Chemicals and produced water management firm Waternex. Taylor was honored with a Presidential Endowed Scholarship by the UT Engineering Foundation and a Research Experience for Undergraduates from the National Science Foundation. She earned her MS Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and her BS Chemical Engineering from the University of Arkansas with high honors. A native Texan, she and her husband Tony are the parents of three children.