Published: Sept. 23, 2016

Noah Finkelstein, who co-directs the Center for STEM Learning at CU Boulder and is a principal investigator for Physics Education Research, one of the largest research groups in physics education in the country, will receive up to $4,000 from the Brazil-U.S. Professorship/Lectureship Program. The Sociedade Brasileira de Física (SBF) and the American Physical Society (APS) jointly sponsor the exchange.

Of 35 applications for the program, only three lectureships were awarded this cycle, according to Amy Flatten, director of international affairs at the APS.

Noah Finkelstein with the Flatirons in the background.

Noah Finkelstein

Finkelstein says his initial trip to Brazil will last two weeks and include lectures and presentations to physics faculty and students at the Universidade Federal Flumineses, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Much of Finkelstein’s Brazilian lectures will be about Finkelstein’s and other CU Boulder research on best approaches for teaching physics.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to take these discussions internationally,” Finkelstein said.  “I’m thrilled about this. It’s a real endorsement of the kind of work we are doing in educational transformation.”

Educational transformation refers to education models that support student engagement and ability in physics, and it’s a major part of Finkelstein’s research. He hopes the discussions will lead to joint programming research in the area of physics education and possibly joint grants and funding for research.  

“We have moved from this paradigm of simply lecturing,” Finkelstein said. Examples of educational transformation include using clickers to engage students, offering small recitations with learning assistants, and using scientific data instead of working through textbook problems.

While in Brazil, Finkelstein also plans to showcase CU Boulder’s STEM education work and connect with Brazilians doing similar work.

In 2015, Finkelstein received a Timmerhaus Teaching Ambassadorship, which honors “strong teaching” and “showcases the high caliber of faculty on CU's four campuses, according to the Timmerhaus website. Ambassadors serve for two years as advocates for education and for programs that promote access and success for all Colorado students. 

The Center for STEM Learnings eighth annual symposium happens on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The center’s mission is to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and serve as a state, national and international resource for such efforts. For more information visit the center’s website