Conferences and Meetings

NAI AbET Seminar: Brad McLain, 'StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning'

By Keith Cowing
May 26, 2011

5/31 NAI AbET Seminar: Brad McLain, ‘StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning’

Join us for the first Astrobiology Education and Training Seminar!

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00AM Pacific

Presenter: Brad McLain, University of Colorado, Denver


Humans are natural storytellers. We describe our experiences in terms of story. We recount our history in terms of story. We learn new things and construct new understanding through the reframing of old stories and the forging of new ones. We even describe who we are–to ourselves and others–in terms of story. When applied to science learning and science communication, the concept of “story” represents a powerful framework for making STEM relevant, meaningful, and exciting. This talk will explore StoryTeaching as the intersection of two fields of study: (1) Science Identity Construction through Experiential Learning, and (2) the Narrative Study of Lives. We will discuss the formation, maintenance, and maturing of positive science identities in the face of an often science-hostile youth culture, and the significance of personal ownership and integration of STEM into an individual’s sense of self though the processes of interpretation and meaning making inherent in story. StoryTeaching is currently currently a research topic and methodology used at the University of Colorado, Denver.


Brad McLain is an educational researcher and co-director of XSci at the University of Colorado, Denver. XSci is the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative focused on research into STEM learning theory and the field of experiential learning. McLain’s research focus is on science identity construction and the role of narrative (storytelling) in content understanding and personal meaning-making. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker and multimedia designer, having been the lead for several NSF and NASA projects over the past 10 years. Prior to joining the faculty at UCD, McLain was an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute, a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry, a NASA educational lead, and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). McLain’s NASA experience began in 2001 as an education lead for space shuttle mission STS 107, Columbia’s final flight which ended in tragedy. Following his stint on the human space flight side of NASA, he became in involved is several educational efforts in space science and astrobiology. He is also a long-time partner of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and has served as an NAI presenter, reviewer, and project development partner in both NASA and NSF funded astrobiology education projects. McLain lives in Boulder Colorado with his family of 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 wife.

Participation Instructions:


Please RSVP to Marco Boldt ([email protected]) if you will be joining by Polycom.

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Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻