Biographies: University of Minnesota

Nancy Bresnahan, 2007-2008

BresnahanI started teaching chemistry and physics in 1983 in Watertown, Minnesota. In 1984 I was chosen to participate summer institute for physics teachers and there met the master teachers who would mentor me for years to come.

After becoming involved in our metro area physics teachers group, I continued to grow as a professional. Although I had two young daughters when I began teaching I still found time to complete my MEd in Physics Education. New opportunities to teach at the Science Museum of Minnesota's gifted and talented programs for urban youth and Vision Quest, a summer chemistry program for native Americans, let me realize that I could affect more students than those who were in my own local classroom.

In 1993 I took two new positions; transferred to a larger school district in Hopkins and began working as a member of the Physics Force Outreach team at the University of Minnesota. These changes broadened my world as an educator. Working with a wider spectrum of students challenged me to make physics a thought provoking and successful experience for all of them.

I received the 2003 Minnesota Academic Excellence-Teacher Achievement Award for my work in the classroom and in an alternative school for at risk youth. I have taught physics to in-service elementary teachers. as an adjunct instructor at both Bemidji State University and Hamline University and found this opportunity to pass on the art of teaching physics to be very rewarding. This fall I will be teaching a physics class for pre-service elementary teachers as part of my TIR responsibilities and look forward to utilizing the PET curriculum.

Jon Anderson, 2008-2009

AndersonSince 1986, I have considered myself a physics teacher. From that time forward it has always been true. However, it hasn't been the whole truth. This is because I have also been a chemistry teacher, a meteorology teacher, an astronomy teacher, and a 9th grade physical science teacher. For the last two years though, it has been the whole truth. Due to the growth in physics enrollment coupled with a growing high school, I have been able to teach only physics. Now, I am stepping away temporarily to take on a new role as TIR at the University of Minnesota.

Throughout my teaching career, I have been presented with many physics and teaching related opportunities. I have had university research experiences through both REX (Research Explorations) and RET (Research Experiences for Teachers). I was awarded the Fermilab Teacher Fellowship and spent the 1999 - 2000 academic year on sabbatical leave while working as a researcher at the DZero detector at FNAL. I was trained as a QuarkNet Lead Teacher in 2002 and spent part of that summer working at CERN in Switzerland. Since that training, I have been conducting annual multi-day workshops for science teachers at the U of M addressing the implementation of particle physics topics into high school science courses.

In 1992 I helped start an "Upward Bound Math & Science" program at Century Community & Technical College. This was a six-week residential program for 40 disadvantaged students with good math and science skills. As a teacher who has always taught in large suburban high schools, my time working with this program truly provided me with the full spectrum of student backgrounds and the balance that comes with such an experience. I have completed 50 credits beyond my M.Ed. in physics education, and worked for over ten years as part of an outreach team for the U of M physics department that is known as the "Physics Force". All of these experiences have helped make me a teacher that embraces change, diversity, and a new challenge.

I have been married for 21 years and have two teenage daughters, ages 16 and 13. My wife and I spend much of our time involved with them and their activities. They are our greatest accomplishments and make our lives very rich.

Steve Olsen, 2009-2010

OlsenTeaching is a skill. It is a skill I like to work on each and every day. I have been fortunate to be able to teach subjects that I love. I began as a piano teacher in high school and college. When I graduated with a chemistry degree it led to a job as a physical science teacher. Later this would allow me to teach chemistry for several years. To make myself available to more classes, I decided to attain my physics certification. I took a class from Dr. Jones at the University of Minnesota and found that I loved physics more than I had ever imagined. Since then, 1987, I have taught mostly physics. I enjoy every day that I go into school to teach physics.

This journey has allowed me to experience many new opportunities. Two of the major ones are as follows. I have been involved in Quarknet through the University of Minnesota which led to several weeks of participation at Fermi Lab in Chicago. I have had a longstanding relationship with Flint Hills Industries where we developed an engineering connection between them and our high schools Honors Physics class. Here Flint Hills presents my class with a real life engineering problem that they are going to be solving in the upcoming budget period. The Honors Physics students then set about solving that problem and presenting their solutions to the Flint Hills engineers. The engineers then present back to the students how they will actually solve the problem. Flint Hills won a national award for this program.

Teaching is not my only activity in life. I greatly enjoy fly fishing, cooking, singing, gardening and etc. The interesting thing is that physics is never far from any of these activities. Physics is everywhere.

The most important parts of my life are not found in any of the above paragraphs. My wife of 33 years and our three children will always lead this list.

Steve Brehmer, 2010-2012

Steve BrehmerAs a recently retired high school physics teacher I am looking for new opportunities to share my enthusiasm for teaching physics.

I graduated from Minnesota State University with degrees in physics and chemistry and earned a Masters in education from the University of Minnesota. For the first twelve years of my career I taught a bit of everything, including physics, chemistry, physical science and computer programming in a small rural school about one hour south of Minneapolis. During the last 21 years I have been fortunate enough to specialize in teaching honors and A.P. physics at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota.

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to be a part of teacher development workshops at many of the leading universities and national labs, including the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and the Stanford Linear Accelerator. As a finalist for the Teacher in Space and the Educator Astronaut program I made a connection with NASA that has allowed me to participate in training at all of their regional centers. Bringing those experiences back to the classroom, my students designed and built two experiments that flew in the cargo bay of the Shuttle, and one on NASA's zero-gravity plane.  Travel has also been a big part of my teaching career, a highlight being an exchange I organized between Russian and Mayo students to see rocket launches in Russia and the U.S. Facilitating Science Olympiad, our environmental action club, and political involvement activities were also important in helping many of my students see how the science they learn in the classroom can be applied in their lives.

Being a TIR with the PhysTEC program at the University of Minnesota is an exciting opportunity to have an impact on the next generation of physics teachers. I can't wait to get started.