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Interview with Mrs. Ali Orsi-Davis

Recently, our team had the amazing opportunity to interview Mrs. Alison Orsi-Davis.

Mrs. Orsi-Davis is currently a science teacher at Thomas S. Hart Middle School in Pleasanton, California. She's traveled the world and studied and researched science extensively.

Question 1: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where you grew up, and what were your scientific influences as a kid?

I grew up mostly in the Bay Area, in Fremont and Pleasanton, along with a few years spent in Japan. Neither of my parents was particularly interested in science, but they always supported my academic interests. Like many kids who grew up before today’s technology advances, I enjoyed exploring nature and making the ever-popular slime and similar polymer experiments.

Question 2: What were your favorite subjects in school? And do you love one branch of science better than the others?

My favorite subjects in school often depended on the teachers and professors who taught classes. However, I always enjoyed the content of science. While I know every branch of science brings clarity and value to our world, my personal favorite branch of science is the Biological Sciences.

Question 3: Have you always been scientifically minded or was that something that developed as you grew older?

I know my scientific development will continue throughout my lifetime! Even now my perceptions of science and how we internalize and communicate our knowledge are constantly changing. Practice and study of any subject will allow development within that field, and since I continue to study science and science education, my interpretations and developments of what a “scientific mind” entails are always evolving.

Question 4: You’re an amazing science teacher, and you’ve taught in many countries. What drew you to science, and what prompted you to become a teacher?

One of my favorite classes growing up was my 7th-grade science class. That was my first experience being immersed in Biological Sciences. My teacher’s room was filled with tanks of pets, and it was in that class that I first dissected a frog. At the university level, many of my classmates were on a path to become doctors, researchers, chemical engineers, etc. I was the only one in my graduating class who chose to become a science teacher, and I am still happy I did so because I cannot think of a better way to use the skills I recognize in myself to benefit others (and hopefully help them become knowledgeable or inspired about science as well).

Question 5: What is your favorite thing about science?

Many people think science is only about unbiased facts. But I love how each scientist brings their own experience and subtle ways of communicating ideas into a larger pool of knowledge throughout the world. As some of my previous students may remember, I think science’s links with art are miraculous and are often undervalued as ways of communicating science to the world.

Question 6: In class, you used to tell us stories about your teaching and exploring the world of science. What was your favorite expedition and why?

Many of my experiences have been memorable and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to spend a large portion of my time after university in several countries. Just like how studying a certain subject like science can help develop a deeper understanding of that material, my time spent researching endangered bears in Ecuador allowed me to delve deeper into several things. I was able to expand my knowledge of not only the science behind protecting the environment, but also the Spanish language, Ecuadorian culture, and how I would like to grow as a person in the future.

Question 7: There are many fake scientific discoveries being advertised around the globe. What advice would you give our readers on differentiating between accurate and artificial news?

Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the intelligence (or at least the advocacy to implement it) to eradicate fake news claims. I would suggest using your scientific practices about source tracing to differentiate truth from fiction. Every publication you trust should be able to cite a magnitude of prior knowledge/research or explain their claims in a way that is backed up by peer-reviewed evidence. Journalists or self-published pieces should have a clear author and credible affiliation. All in all, transparency of research methods and information sources is becoming more important by the day. So, on this blog, be extra sure to cite where your information is coming from in order to remain credible!

Question 8: Thanks to the coronavirus and disastrous California wildfires, we’ve all been holed up inside our homes. Can you tell us one positive thing that has emerged from these events, either personal or in the world?

Around the world, I am happy to see that many places seem to have lowered pollutant emissions from factories and transportation. And rather than simply starting a gradual increase back to pre-COVID levels, we have an opportunity to realize and change practices that harm the environment. Personally, I am fortunate to have increased virtual communication between my family. It is great to see my family and friends working together to stay safe and protect others.

Question 9: Here at TSB, our team consists of twelve teenagers that love science. What advice do you give us or any of our readers about studying and applying science? What do you think of TSB? Any feedback?

I think TSB is a great way to broaden your voices virtually. In a way, your idea is similar to a scientific journal in that you have many contributing scientists all publishing their findings on a single platform. I hope you continue to study and research what interests you the most, and perhaps even begin to attend things like science conferences and community events! Great work.

And… those were the wise words of an incredible science teacher.

Until next time...

Stay Curious ;)



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