Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Erik Wilson

Erik Wilson (ErikW) is a biochemist and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He studies ways to use the Internet to support K-12 science teachers and works with the Science and Health Education Partnership at UCSF.

Erik's Perspective

For years when I saw opportunities for scientists to support science education, I said: "That's a great idea, someone should do it!" In 1996, while I was working as a biochemist at UCSF, my wife Terra and I learned that we were going to be parents and I started to think more about education. So when the Science and Health Education Partnership called for volunteers to join teacher-scientist partnerships, I said, "That's a great idea, I should do it!" It was a wonderful experience - helping with classroom experiments and helping teachers build a Web page to support the San Francisco school district's kit-based K-5 science curriculum.

In 1997 I applied for an NSF Fellowship for scientists who want to work in education. Someone at SEP pointed me in the direction of TAPPED IN, where I met Mark Schlager, who graciously agreed to be a mentor for my fellowship. He, Judi Fusco and Hulda Nystrom have been tremendously helpful as I've pursued my goals of finding ways to best use the Internet in support of science education.

I began hosting After School Online discussions: On "Cancer and Aging," which drew on my background as a biochemist; on the K-5 Science Web page that I helped put together as a SEP volunteer; on integrating LEGO blocks into the classroom; on "Holding Meetings in TAPPED IN;" and now I'm doing a series on "Scientists in the Classroom" and one called "Ask-a-Scientist in TAPPED IN" during my Helpdesk hours (Monday 12-2 p.m. PDT).

Jackie Menasco (JackieM) and I have teamed up in facilitating an ongoing K-8 Science Education Discussion Group. We've had many interesting discussions, especially with such guest speakers as Sue Jagoda (SueJ) of the Lawrence Hall of Science and Jack Hassard (JackH) of Georgia State University.

My future plans include assembling a guide for scientist involvement in TAPPED IN, holding a virtual Science Professional Development Institute and, my dream of dreams, using TAPPED IN as the venue for teacher-scientist partnerships across the country and around the world.

I look forward to working with the pioneers that all of us in TAPPED IN are, and using our experience to light the way for those who come after us.