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Faculty Excellence: Science at O’Dowd

O’Dowd’s robust science program is known for its academic rigor, state-of-the-art facilities, and in-the-field research trips. Students are offered unique pathways in biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science, depending on their interests. They conduct experiments in our Center for Environmental Studies and our “Living Lab” - an outdoor classroom, native plant community, certified wildlife habitat, and sustainable garden. And they participate in large research projects with leading nonprofits, including the National Park Service and Ecology Project International.


Tim Newman, Science Department Chair, teaches the first class of Advanced Placement Biology dressed for a field expedition.
Tim Newman, Science Department Chair, teaches the first class of Advanced Placement Biology dressed for a field expedition.

Tim Newman, chair of O’Dowd’s Science Department, has been teaching at O’Dowd for over 20 years. Through our Fund for Faculty Excellence, O’Dowd has supported Newman’s ongoing professional development, which in turn has exponentially strengthened student learning.

9th graders study water and carbon cycles, photosynthesis, and respiration, designing and engineering a closed ecosystem using soda bottles and plant materials from O’Dowd’s Living Lab.
9th graders study water and carbon cycles, photosynthesis, and respiration, designing and engineering a closed ecosystem using soda bottles and plant materials from O’Dowd’s Living Lab.

While teaching at O’Dowd, Newman has been able to pursue a M.Ed with concentration in Educational Therapy from Holy Names University (2000) and an M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University (2018).

He has gained deep expertise in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and has used that knowledge to build a three-dimensional and cohesive learning environment, including:

  • Developing a creative project-based curriculum that addresses different learning needs while supporting students to master crosscutting concepts in Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design.

  • Incorporating science and engineering practices within lessons to create opportunities for students to both investigate the natural world and design and build responsive systems.

  • Creating an immersive “cause and effect” curriculum that helps students develop a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world around them.

  • Designing lessons that relate the interests and life experiences of students to scientific or technological knowledge.

Students on a research trip in Greater Yellowstone learn to use telemetry equipment to track animals.
Students on a research trip in Greater Yellowstone learn to use telemetry equipment to track animals.

“I see so much growth in students through our curriculum,” says Newman. “They might not start out interested in science, but then they see the impact they can have, and they decide to work in the Living Lab or join the EcoLeaders or sign up for an AP science course. The impact of this education is very long-lasting.”

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