Meet The Creators

Fred Meshna

Having retired as a public school teacher in 2007 after a thirty-year career teaching math and science from grades 6 through college, Fred has taken up the cause of helping middle school science teachers better understand the conceptual pitfalls that hinder the success of average students in chemistry and physics.

Fred began his teaching career as a middle school physical science teacher at Hollis Middle School in Hollis, NH. Having been trained in biology, he quickly realized that he was not equipped to answer many questions posed by his 8th grade students, and became determined to make himself better prepared to do so. To that end, he began taking courses in physics, chemistry, electricity and math which led to a Masters of Natural Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, providing him with teaching certifications in chemistry and physics.

While enrolled at WPI, Fred took a position as a high school math teacher at North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend, MA., a position which gave him much insight into the quantitative conceptual difficulties encountered by the average high school math student. Throughout the middle two decades of his teaching career as a chemistry and physics teacher, Fred was constantly amazed to discover that the foundational concepts needed to create accurate quantitative models not only escaped the students, but were often not clearly understood by the teacher, including him.

Since that time Fred has made it his mission to overcome the conceptual deficiencies of both him and his students. He continued his science education through formal coursework in subjects such as quantitative chemical analysis, physical chemistry, quantum mechanics and electronics. But more importantly he became involved in groups that focused on science pedagogy. Taking advantage of programs such as the Lowell Regional Physics Alliance, and NSF funded summer programs such as Project Update in the mid 90s, Fred began to improve on his ability to hold his student’s interest and help them meet with success in high school chemistry and physics. But his most formative educational experience happened in the late 90s
when he was accepted into a three year summer institute at the University of Washington in Seattle conducted by the Physics Educational Group headed by Dr Lillian McDermott. The course, Physics by Inquiry, spotlighted the conceptual pitfalls encountered not only by physics students, but also by physics teachers. Its Socratic approach to conceptualization spotlighted the inherent difficulties often overlooked by even the most qualified teachers. In particular, the poorly grasped concepts inherent in proportional reasoning in 8th grade was shown to be a chief cause of low success rates among high school chemistry and physics students.

Since his retirement from public school teaching, Fred has been teaching part time at the International school of Boston, focusing his attention on 8th grade physical science, in the belief that the 8th grade is a formative year in which students are most ready to develop the cognitive framework needed to bring future success in chemistry and physics.

The creation of the web site easyaspi.org is the culmination of the years of Fred’s experience.

 

Arianna Lambie

Arianna was a student in Fred’s chemistry and physics classes at The Bromfield School in 2001-2003. She studied Earth Systems at Stanford University and then worked in sustainability consulting for three years. In 2011, she acted on a fortuitous opportunity to teach at the Laboratory Schools in Chicago, which motivated to pursue her teaching degree and continue a career in education. At the Lab School and in Chicago Public Schools, Arianna taught a range of 5th through 8th grade science, sustainability, and home economics. She reconnected with Fred in 2014 to help develop easyaspi.org and now lives in Portland, Oregon, raising her new baby girl.

 

 

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