About Dr. Lowe (Clowey)

The short version:

I am a science educator at Northern Michigan University where I teach science and education courses to prospective teachers as well as introductory biology courses to the general university population. I also teach graduate students in science education. Prior to obtaining my PhD in Biological Education, I was a middle school and high school teacher in Oklahoma. I am married and have 5 grown children and 8 grandchildren along with a dog, a cat and a bird.

The long version:

As long as I can remember, I was going to be a scientist. As a kid, being a nurse or stewardess really wasn't my dream - I wanted to be a rocket scientist like Werner Von Braun (my 5th grade hero). While I didn't stick with rocket science, I always stayed with science. In high school I discovered I had a real love for chemistry so began college majoring in chemistry. I worked both at the university and at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in the labs. But life changed and I ended up not finishing (right then anyway).

A few years down the road, after having my five kids, I decided what I really wanted to do was do what my father and cousin had done for me - show me the beautiful world around us. That meant I wanted to be a teacher - of course a science teacher. So I went back to school and got a degree in biology with certifications in almost every science you can think of. Then I started teaching. I taught for one year at Bridge Creek Jr. High School in Blanchard, Oklahoma and then 4 years at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City. A couple of really important things happened for my career during those years.

While teaching I completed a Masters of Education in Gifted Education and focused on under- and un-achieving kids. I found I was really good at identifying bright kids who weren't the "A" students. And often I found they really liked doing things - not just memorizing and taking tests. Computers seemed to be really interesting to most of them.

I also was chosen as the high school representative for a national movement called Earth Systems Science. In 1992 I went to the University of Northern Colorado for a 3 week intensive training. This idea of learning and teaching about science frames what we know around "spheres" rather than the typical subject areas. This idea is reflected in the design of Biome and Biome4Kids. In 1994 I left K-12 teaching to pursue a dream of mine - to get a PhD. I had played with the idea but when the new degree in biological education combined with a place I knew well (University of Northern Colorado) presented itself, I, along with my family made the decision I should go for it. So I did and in 1999 I received my PhD in Biological Education. This is a biology degree but with an education focus. That fall I began teaching here at Northern Michigan University. I have taught a lot of different courses - from biology courses to teaching methods to graduate courses in science education to technology in education.

I have been interested in technology since giving up my "antique calculator" (according to my children) - my slide rule - for my first calculator. I learned some basic programming skills way back in the days of Fortran and basic. Even before that, while in a gifted class in elementary school, I built a shoebox computer and learned binary. While teaching high school I pretty much confiscated the only computer in the department for use in my classroom. I took a class on the first generation Mac in the late 80's. In graduate school I took advanced courses on GIS and maps. In short - I love technology.

So how did I end up as a tiny panda in a virtual world? The spaceman told me to. :)  Well, really, I went to a NASA education conference and learned about the virtual world Second Life. That night I made my first avatar and have never looked back. For a time NMU had two islands, Biome and Biome II, in Second Life. But the cost was increasing and funding was short. On top of that, only people 18 or over could access it. I wanted to work with kids! So, when I began collaborating with the VIBE (Virtual Islands for Better Education) group, I began designing a new and improved Biome using the Opensim platform. Biome4Kids is a version just for K-12 kids and teachers. If I told you more, you'd be really bored (if you aren't already). and besides - just come visit and see for yourself. If you are of a K-12 age or a K-12 teacher you can apply in here and make an account in Biome4Kids. Anyone of any age can participate in Biome or the other VIBE grids. For more information on Biome see http://cloweysbiome.blogspot.com.

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