Meet Mr. Brownlow....
Mr. James Brownlow has been a science instructor in the state of Mississippi for more than 26 years. He has a great passion for teaching, for science, and for many genres of fiction. His life has been greatly influenced by his passions for reading and science fiction, and he draws heavily on both in his instructional practices. He is an admirer of great scientific figures such as Albert Einstein and Marie Curie (and he is also quite fond of fictional heroes such as Superman and Batman and Yoda and Wolverine and Bishop and Dr. Strange and Luke Skywalker and Snoopy and Calvin&Hobbes and Kermit the Frog and Pheonix and Storm and the Hulk). Mr. Brownlow is an Apple super fan and he avidly collects each and every latest and greatest Apple "toy."
Mr. Brownlow's philosophy of education is simple. All children learn... in their own way and in their time. A teacher is a facilitator of knowledge. We must assess what each student understands to be true of his or her world (based on the full spectrum of life experiences he or she brings into the classroom), and we must strive to uncover any deep-rooted misconceptions that each student may harbor that could impede the speedy acquisition of new knowledge. Every learner fills in their own conceptual or cognitive framework by comparing new information to currently held information. If we try to "stuff" information into such frameworks too fast or if we try to put new information into a cognitive structure that is not fully developed enough to assimilate the new information, then we can't be surprised when this new material is rejected (and ultimately forgotten) by the novice learner.
Science should be learned in a hands-on, minds-on manner, using the teaching strategies that most comfortably fit the learners in the classroom. Teaching strategies must be tailored to the needs of the visual learner, and the tactile-kinesthetic learner, and the aural learner... to the needs of the sequential learner and the global learner. They must also make heavy use of skills held by students with diverse multiple intelligences and with different personality profiles. We have almost come full circle to the one-room schoolhouse approach in which every student operates with an individualized education plan (IEP) that has served the special needs students so well for so long.
The polymer program at Hattiesburg has operated for a short seven years. In that time we have experienced quite a bit of success. The following is a list of some of our accomplishments (in no order for level of importance).
•We have been featured in seven newspaper articles (in two local newspapers), and we have been asked to participate in a New York Times article on student science fair research.
•We have been featured in evening news articles fourteen times (on three networks).
•We have been featured in two Mississippi CTE Connections articles.
•We have been featured in a national Tech and Learning magazine.
•We have received a $10,000 grant from Mississippi Power for our Science Saturdays program designed to get parents and their children involved in science activities together.
•We received $10,000 worth of Vernier technology (one of three awarded to high schools in the U.S. out of 44,000 entries) for our creative use of probes in our Design a Better Football Helmet lab.
•We pioneered the use of 3D printer technology in polymers and robotics classrooms in the state of Mississippi. We were the first school to actually have a 3D prototyping printer on-site for our state, and now almost every polymer and robotics program has such technology due to the powerful learning possibilities it offers in terms of allowing students to see the entire engineering design and prototyping cycle through the use of CADD and 3D printing technologies.
•We have had students present to younger learners both in our classroom and at other sites including Woodley Elementary, Rowan, Grace Christian, Hawkins, and N.R. Burger. Our students have been used to judge elementary science fair projects; they have taught fourth grade and sixth grade students a short unit on polymers; and they have completed twenty or so science demonstration days and polymer recruitment events.
•We have had two international science and engineering fair participants over the last two years. This work has allowed our students to present their findings before experts from around the globe. DeAndré Stafford-May received two trips for his efforts, one to Chicago (to present his research on UV-cured thiol-ene composites before members of a global composites consortium) and one to Pittsburgh for the international fair. At the fair, he was recognized with a $3,000 award from the American Chemical Society for his important work. Chris Jenkins received a trip to Phoenix (where he was encouraged by judges of his work to patent his work on gas diffusion thiol-ene films designed to extract carbon dioxide from methane and natural gas).
•We have had eleven students chosen to become practicing researchers in the labs at USM. Four of those students have gone on to be part of the polymer undergraduate program.
•We have had two different students become part of published research teams in esteemd, peer-reviewed science periodicals. Hannah Brown and Caleb Faulkner have both been very successful in this area. It is almost unheard of for entering freshman candidates to be able to put the accomplishment of being published on their resumé. We are priviledged to have not one, but two such students to our credit.
•We have established many industry partners through our curriculum steering committee. Students have been able to interact with experts from Western Container, Ingall’s Shipbuilding, Chevron, Boeing, Hybrid Plastics, Excel Injection Molding, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, Coca Cola, the University of Southern Mississippi, Pearl River Community College, Mississippi State University and its RCU, the Georgia Aquarium, the Mississippi Polymer Institute, NASA, and the Institute for Marine Mammal Research. We have traveled to the industry partner’s site to learn material from their practicing experts and many of them have sent experts onto our campus to present lectures and deliver demonstrations to our students.
•We have been able to share our activities and lessons with teachers from around the country through over sixty presentations at MSTA, NSTA, ISEF, ACS, MSACTE and other state and national organizational meetings (through presentations on polymers activities, hands-on, minds-on learning, 5E lesson design, iPads in the classroom, and teacher inservice). I have had the thrill of traveling during the summer to teach teachers at Oak Ridge, TN, Pittsburgh, PA, and New Orleans, LA to use polymers and materials science activities in their own classrooms.
•I have had the opportunity to help Dr. Thomas and others at central office in completing science in-service for the district. I have helped present to science fair students and parents for several years. I have helped with the reading fair parent nights as well. I have hosted district science in-service in our science labs, and I have presented lessons for students during summer enrichment programs at N.R. Burger.
I am extremely proud of our kids and of our program.
"Logic will take you from A to B, IMAGINATION WILL TAKE YOU EVERYWHERE."