Teaching
Notebook
My Philosophy                

Foster a love of life-long learning.

Foster a set of tools broadly applicable to any challenge students will face outside of academia.  These include critical thinking, the ability to solve problems when facts and theory are incomplete, the ability to work in groups, and the ability to write a good paragraph.  These are tools that are highly prized in the workforce, not just in science.

Give students a background in the leading issues of biology balancing facts and theory. Facts without theory are catalogues of information; theory without facts rings hollow.

Instill an appreciation for science as a process, with a history of keen insights, blind alleys, squabbles, debates, and resolutions. 

Students learn by doing: by being placed in a supportive environment with a problem, and being allowed to make mistakes toward addressing that problem. 

My Courses

Community Ecology 5413
How are assemblages of species structured, and why does it matter?

Principles of Ecology 3403
What regulates the distribution and abundance of organisms, and why does it matter?

Senior Capstone 4983:
The Art and Science of Biodiversity

How is the earth's biodiversity seen by its artists and its scientists?

Introduction to Zoology 1114
How did life evolve and how does it work, and why does it matter? Field trips, videos, drawing assignments complement the lecture.


Teaching outside the classroom
In the 2003-2004 school year, I am a featured scientist in the JASON project's "Tropical rainforests at the cross roads" curriculum. This was an opportunity to teach 1.7 million students from 4-8th grade, via a life feed from Barro Colorado Island. Five 1-hour shows a day for two weeks!

Check out my litter biology for young scientists pages (in development), and stuff we put together for JASON curriculum, including a chapter on the green and brown food web, as well as a lab exercise where 4-8th grade students explore soil biodiversity.

See what kind of lunacy 5 shows a day can inspire. This is "The Decomposition Skit". You'll need QuickTime to view it.

Every August, ant biologists of every stripe get together to teach the Ant Course in some of the most diverse and beautiful places on earth, Cave Creek Canyon in SE Arizona, La Selva Costa Rica, and the rainforests of Northern Queensland, Australia.
Dressed in the latest ant-collecting garb, Mike Kaspari supervises ant neophyte Phil Ward.
This page was built with support from the National Science Foundation.
Author: Mike Kaspari
Last Updated: 29Oct06