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Science Is About Curiosity: Applying Science to Everyday LifeFebruary 03, 2022
Science is the study and the application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world through observation and experiment. Observation allows people to see how and why things happen the way they do, and with an investigation, while an experiment explains how the world around us works. As a liberal arts and sciences education institution, Parami offers a wide range of science courses in the Spring semester modular period 1 to equip a well-rounded education through an interdisciplinary teaching approach. To dive deeper into the essential role of science in everyday life, we spoke with Dr. Win Maw Hlaing Oo, a full-time faculty in science at Parami, to share his perspective and inspiration for teaching science.
Dr. Win Maw obtained his Ph.D. in Materials Science from Washington State University and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. At Parami, Dr. Win Maw teaches the role of science and mathematics in society.
Tell us a little about the courses you teach in this modular period. What is your main inspiration for teaching the courses?
A couple of years ago, I read Physics and Technology for Future Presidents, written by UC Berkeley professor Richard Muller. The book covers a wide range of topics focusing on current science and technological issues every world leader needs to know to make informed decisions. His book inspired me. Many universities have adopted this book for their courses.
The book ignited my vision to design science courses. Now I am teaching three courses: Science and Technology for a Sustainable World, Mathematics of Life, and Chaos: Science of Randomness. I try to provide students with the scientific background needed to become informed leaders in society.
What are the main topics students will be learning, and what are the essential concepts you would like students to gain from this course?
Students will explore the prospects of sustainable development on earth with finite resources and a fragile environment, how mathematics can contribute to our understanding of living things, the complexity in nature, and how mathematics can explain seemingly random processes. They will gain a better understanding of how nature works and how society and the natural world are connected.
What is your main inspiration for teaching subjects in the field of science?
Science is about curiosity. Curiosity is the driving force of science. My inspiration for teaching has come from my curiosity about how things work. I would like to pass this curiosity on to my students.
What is the role of science in our society, and how can we apply it to everyday life?
You may see the latest news about COVID-19 on social media. Is the news reliable or not? You have to weigh the credibility of the information. Science is based on healthy skepticism. In your science classes, you have to examine the results from your experiment or calculation. Are they correct? Does your answer make sense? You can apply the same approaches outside of the classroom. Science education allows you to organize information into sensible concepts.
Some students would think science is irrelevant and challenging; how would you encourage them to learn more about science?
Yes, they may think. However, the trick is not to mind that it is challenging. Then, you can turn difficult problems into exciting challenges.
What are your top 3 learning tips?
Be curious, open-minded, and able to think of lots of different angles.
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