GV to offer ‘morsels’ of education through virtual learning series

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

Courtesy / GVSU

The Grand Valley State University Regional Math and Science Center (RMSC) is working with the GVSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty to create a new learning series called Grand Morsels

Grand Morsels is a series designed to breakdown complex scientific concepts into smaller, more digestible pieces, in hopes of providing K-12 teachers and other community members with a better understanding of how science shapes the world.  

Grand Morsels is a free, virtual event to help give teachers new content in a simple, easily accessible package. The series will occur on the last Tuesday of every month. 

Science program coordinator, Kathy Agee, said Grand Morsels is about diving into topics most people are familiar with but can’t quite explain, and sharing content about how science applies to everyday life. 

“(Grand Morsels) is the idea that, ‘Oh, someone’s going to put these pieces together and help me understand this fundamental level of how something works,” Agee said. “I think that’s what has hit a chord, to go back and have this basic understanding.”

The RMSC is an outreach program within the university that has been working for the past 30 years to support students and teachers in the West Michigan area. 

Agee helped to develop the Grand Morsels series alongside RMSC Director, Dr. Kristofer Pachla, and School of Communications faculty member, Dr. Richard Besel.

In the early stages of the series’ development, the committee was focused on addressing the struggles teachers and educators face from the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the education system. 

“There’s a teacher shortage, there’s a substitute teacher shortage, teachers are out with COVID, so teachers couldn’t leave their classrooms…and also people are getting tired of the virtual community,” Agee said. “The three of us got together and said, ‘What can we do to support teachers, students who are going into teaching or anyone in the community to make something that’s not long and arduous for people to attend virtually?”

The Grand Morsels Learning Series not only provides content in a free, comprehensive format, but also allows teachers to earn credits towards their State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH), which are necessary for teaching license renewal, starting in February. 

Agee said she hopes that the series will reach more than the teaching audience and encourage the idea that learning is ageless.

“We just really wanted to encourage people to be lifelong learners, there’s always something more to learn,” Agee said. “Never stop questioning, never stop learning.”

Each presentation will feature a 30-minute lecture from GVSU faculty, and a 15-minute question-and-answer period from the audience, following the theme of, “Science is Everywhere Around Us.” 

The first presentation, titled “Talking Through the Air: The Science of Wireless Communication,” will be led by Dr. Len O’Kelly, Associate Director and faculty at the GVSU School of Communications. 

O’Kelly said he was driven to educate on what he believes is the most scientific method of communication available today: covering great distances without wires, and the science of the radio.

“When I was an undergraduate broadcast student, we were required to take a course in engineering to learn how our equipment worked, and what to do when it didn’t,” O’Kelly said. “We don’t teach that anymore. For me, it’s important to know the ‘how’ behind it as well, and I look forward to sharing this information with others.”

O’Kelly said he feels that the field of communication is vital and wants to reinforce the thought that science and communication can go hand-in-hand. 

“Any opportunity to show the value of what we do in communications is an important one to me and I am always happy to do it,” O’Kelly said. “If one of the educators, or even a high school student, sees the series and thinks more critically about how communication and the sciences coexist, then it’s all worthwhile.” 

The Grand Morsels Learning Series is generating a buzz beyond GVSU. 

Teachers and community members in the area said they’re looking forward to the presentations and hoping to see more in the future. 

Rebecca Lewis, an 8th-grade science teacher at North Rockford Middle School, said as a GVSU alumna she enjoys being a part of things happening at the university. 

She said she is hoping O’Kelly’s presentation will show her a new approach to teaching such complex concepts.

“The idea of this learning series sounded very interesting to me because my students always struggle with understanding difficult science topics,” Lewis said. “I am hoping to learn how to break down those complicated ideas and present them to students, and even adults when the conversation arises, so they genuinely understand the content, rather than just memorize the facts.”

“Talking Through the Air: The Science of Wireless Communication,” will take place virtually on Jan. 25, 2022 at 7 p.m. 

For more information and to register for the presentation, those interested can visit the Grand Morsels page on GVSU’s website.