Dorrill, Ryan

Ryan Dorrill participated in PDP 2019 while working as a graduate student in physics at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He graduated with his PhD in August of that year and moved with his cat to Chicago to begin a postdoc at Illinois Institute of Technology. His work focuses on neutrinos and neutrino detection, and he hopes to continue studying them further, as well as engaging in outreach and educational opportunities with a focus on inquiry-based learning.


Teaching Activity Summary

Name of Teaching Activity: Akamai PREP1, Reflection and Refraction

Teaching Dates: June 15-21, 2019

Location: Hilo, HI

Learners: 42 undergraduate students.

Reflection on how the activity designed was influenced by research on equity & inclusion in STEM teaching:

The Reflection and Refraction activity during the Akamai Prep Program 2019 was designed with an emphasis on facilitating STEM identities and growth mindsets for learners of all learning levels. Only a small subset of the activity participants were physics majors (who might have a background in optics), so our design tried incorporate these philosophies. Students investigated these phenomena with their choices of instruments and materials, then created poster designs and written explanations of what they observed.

Overall, the learners’ final posters seemed to reflect these goals, succeeding in mimicking the style of real scientific posters by crediting group members, using diagrams, labeling the scientific laws involved, and using lists to condense information. This is good practice for their work as future scientists or professionals, where they may have to give poster presentations of their own at conferences or campus events.

In “Intelligence as a Malleable Construct,” Blackwell describes how students from varied backgrounds and upbringings can all grow their intelligence, especially if they share the ‘growth mindset’ described by Dweck. Students in our activities sometimes went through multiple phases of this process, with one group deliberately picking what they saw as a ‘difficult’ activity, starting with confidence, struggling during the process, losing some confidence and feeling ‘it wasn’t their thing,’ and then finishing up with a strong poster and a sense that they had succeeded in the end.