It is a fairly simple story: Ricochet Science is a site produced by science educators to bring relevancy to the classroom.
As a science teacher, I realized very early on that it comes down to relevancy. As an instructor at Hillsborough Community College, Floyd College (now Georgia Highlands) and as the director of the introductory biology program at Appalachian State, I was always looking for resources to make biology content relevant to students who are not biology majors. After all, I always found science to be cool, and I recognized that students actually like science – when they can relate to it. As a science writer, I was fortunate to attract the attention of McGraw-Hill Education, who placed me as lead author for the Mader Biology series of textbooks. As I worked on this series I integrated relevancy into both the print and digital aspects of the texts. But I was always looking for a way to introduce new content to the science education community more efficiently.
For years I developed animations, virtual lectures, podcasts, and tutorials for my students. Some worked, others didn’t. The scientist in me (my background is in molecular evolutionary genetics) was motivated by those that didn’t. I challenged myself to build the best resources for my students. Luckily for me, my partner, Sandy Windelspecht, was an experienced instructional designer (Lowes Home Improvement, Microsoft, etc). So we started a company, Ricochet Creative Productions LLC, to start building multimedia assets not only for my classes, but also to support the Mader/Windelspecht texts. Here is an example…
Very shortly after that we realized that we should be sharing these resources freely across the science education community. We experimented with a series of blog sites before settling on the Ricochet Science site you see here today. Is this site perfect? Probably not, but neither were my lectures when I first started, it was only through feedback and continuous development that I achieved my goals in the classroom. The same applies for Ricochet Science. This is a constantly evolving, adaptive site that strives to serve those who are interested in, and engaged in, science education.
I am very lucky to have worked with McGraw-Hill Education, Area9, and Inkling as corporate sponsors over the past few years. These partnerships allow me to experience some of the cutting edge resources in higher education, and, for you, develop resources that can easily be integrated into those platforms. No more searching frantically for articles for your flipped and hybrid classes, chances are we are developing them here, and they are free for you to use (see our Use and Privacy policies).
I am also lucky to have working with me a tremendous collection of talent. As I mentioned Sandy Windelspecht, is the co-founder of the company and lead instructional designer for the material you see here. Her task (a formidable one sometimes) is to take my ideas and make them educationally useful and visually appealing. I have also recruited some of my previous colleagues (Betsy Harris) and graduate students in biology (Krissy Johnson, Alex James, and Michael Duus) to act as instructional designers. Each of them holds a masters degree in biology, and a record of successfully teaching in the introductory science classroom. Much of what they do is behind the scenes – but very much appreciated. Finally, I have some wonderful subject matter experts that I call upon regularly to make sure that I get the science right. So, you can see, this is a team of science educators producing science materials for the science classroom.
One of our most important goals at Ricochet Creative Productions is developing talent. Starting a few years ago we started recruiting high school seniors and college freshman to work on science communication projects. These students not only learn about multimedia development using state of the art tools, but also gain experience in photography and video production. A few of these students have specialized in social media, and work on our FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest sites. Others have started to contribute short articles to this site. We are very interested in expanding this project, so if you are an educator with a passion for science communication, and have an idea of how we can participate, then please let us know.
So here is my challenge to you – help us make this site what you need. Let us know if your students find this site useful, let us know if you have a need for an animation or topic for your classes. There is a contact form at the top of the page, just fill it out and let us know.
Too often science educators think that they need to go it alone and spend their valuable time developing resources for their students. We can help, and together we can change science education in this country.
Michael Windelspecht, PhD
Ricochet Creative Productions LLC