FAQs

What credentials do you have for teaching the sciences?

I have a BA in Chemistry (with a minor in physics) and a PhD from Natural Resources Science and Management (now the Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering department) of the University of Minnesota.  I taught and helped develop curriculum for two college level courses during my graduate career: Surface and Colloid Science and Bio-based Materials Science.

Why do parents always learn for free at Small t Academy?

  1. I think learning is a lifelong adventure.  I want students to see that (in their parents) because they will emulate it.
  2. I also want the parents to understand what the students are learning and be able to support them with home experiments!
  3. I’ve found that most parents enjoy learning, but are too busy with raising their kids to sign themselves up for my science lab lessons!  Hopefully, this helps increase the value of my lessons.

Why do you force all math & science areas to be learned?

I do not “force” students to learn all of the math & science areas, but I do recommend it!  Why?  A solid base of all the science disciplines is essential for both the beginner and the expert.  I find to this day, that my understanding of chemistry helps my understand biology easier (and vice versa)!  In regards to math, it is the language that all the sciences depend on.  One must study math to better understand the sciences just as one must be able to read to understand the social sciences!

Why is 100% proficiency needed to meet button requirements?

  1. I want the student to be confident in their abilities and 100% proficiency is proof to themselves.
  2. I need to be confident that the student can handle certain tasks before trusting them with more elaborate labs and 100% proficiency is proof to me that they have mastered the skills.

Keep in mind that I teach and train for 100% proficiency as well.  Button tests are not surprises.  The student will have ample time to prepare for the tests.

How are you both a scientist and a christian?

I do not believe that being a scientist requires me to be an atheist.  In fact, I believe that it requires more faith to be an atheist scientist than it does to be a christian scientist.  I tried being an atheist (or at least agnostic) student of the sciences.  Looking back at my teenage years, I remember being “forced” to go through the Catholic ceremony of Confirmation.  I loathed it.  I had already subconsciously put my faith in science.  I believed science could and would solve all of my problems (and the world’s problems for that matter).  As I went through science course after science course, my faith in science diminished.  By the time I had finished college, I was still very much lost in my christian walk, but I knew one thing: science alone was NEVER going to be able to solve the really important problems (both in my life and in the world)!

Scientific laws and rules are not the cause of the phenomena around us… they are only the current explanation.  Every time we explain something and answer a question, the explanation produces 3 more questions.  I suppose it’s job security for scientists!  However, I can’t help but extrapolate and notice that the complexity and wonder of the universe is infinite.  At first, that realization was depressing for me (while I still wanted to put my faith in science).  Eventually, my feelings of depression and loss were replaced with joy and renewed excitement as I began to understand that there is a Creator, He loves me, and that He is in charge!  Then, scientific discovery, for me, became an investigation into His handy work and it excites me still to this day.  Something that really helped me was the understanding that scientific conclusions are most heavily weighted by the original assumptions made by the scientist.  This is how I can be both a scientist and a christian: I am a christian first (those are the assumptions that I start with) and I am a scientist second.

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