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Dr Stephanie Ryan is a children's book author, learning scientist, and educator who uses her skills and experience to develop educational content, and is passionate about creating better ways to learn science.

Join us as we talk about learning sciences, education, and Stephanie's book Let's Learn about Chemistry.

About Dr Stephanie Ryan

Dr Stephanie Ryan, Ph.D. is a chemist, a boy mom, and a social media influencer who enjoys using her background to create superior educational products and content.

Although an academic at heart, Dr Stephanie is passionate about learning through play. She can be found helping young kids explore the fascinating world around them.

Over the years, Dr Stephanie has taught science to all age groups, both in and out of the classroom, helping toddlers learn about their world and college students define theirs. She is an active member of the chemistry education community and is currently a committee member of the International Activities Committee for the Division of Chemical Education.

Dr Stephanie earned her Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences and her M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Saint Mary’s College.

For great learning activities in the sciences, book recommendations, and more, follow Dr Stephanie on Instagram at @letslearnaboutscience.


Books authored by or mentioned in our conversation.

  • The monster at the end of this book: Sesame street: Starring lovable, furry old Grover by Stone, J GoodReads
  • Let's Learn about Chemistry by Ryan, Swebsite GoodReads

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  • [00:00:44] Stephanie's interest in chemistry.
  • [00:02:04] What Stephanie envisaged her future in chemistry to be.
  • [00:02:27] A desire to help people.
  • [00:03:34] An opportunity to design teaching content as a TA.
  • [00:04:51] Getting a taste for research.
  • [00:05:46] Discovering an interest in how people learn.
  • [00:08:06] The appeal of learning sciences over applied teaching?
  • [00:09:36] Wanting to understand why some students learned differently to others.
  • [00:10:10] The way people teach mathematics vs science.
  • [00:10:54] Recording thought processes during interviews.
  • [00:11:37] Participatory design to develop a learning program as part of her postdoctorate work.
  • [00:13:31] Being able to watch the program develop and improve over time.
  • [00:14:41] The transition to phenomena based teaching of chemistry.
  • [00:16:28] The water and peroxide example for solidifying concepts.
  • [00:19:03] Learning by rote vs understanding the concepts.
  • [00:19:28] Understanding the foundations in order to understand higher concepts.
  • [00:20:17] What is covered as part of Learning Sciences.
  • [00:20:40] A multidisciplinary program that incorporates psychology and sociology with your primary field of focus.
  • [00:22:38] Felt like the precursor to Discipline Based Education Research.
  • [00:24:12] What educational program development entails.
  • [00:26:45] Adapting work for the pandemic, and adapting again post-lockdown.
  • [00:27:02] Finding an outlet and purpose during the pandemic.
  • [00:27:47] The challenges of learning social-media for your audience.
  • [00:30:33] On writing "Let's Learn About Chemistry"
  • [00:30:56] The inspiration for the book.
  • [00:32:32] Running a KickStarter for the book.
  • [00:32:51] Launching a book during a pandemic.
  • [00:33:14] Pivoting to online promotion.
  • [00:34:06] Developing a community.
  • [00:35:04] There is a lot of questionable 'STEM' labelled merchandise.
  • [00:35:42] Making activities open-ended with questions.
  • [00:36:54] Misconceptions about what you see on social-media.
  • [00:38:05] Teaching adults as well as children. It's about empowerment.
  • [00:38:54] Incorporating the educational experiences into what you would do normally.
  • [00:40:53] Social-media videos can remove the 'magic' of STEM that makes it more accessible to everyone.
  • [00:42:13] Finding a balance with home-schooling enrichment.
  • [00:43:58] Finding interesting ways to collaborate.
  • [00:45:54] There is so much potential in how we can collaborate.
  • [00:46:52] People love to share what they know.
  • [00:48:30] Questioning the value of teaching the mathematics side of chemistry at school level.
  • [00:51:39] Teaching chemistry vs physics.
  • [00:53:18] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
  • [00:55:06] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
  • [00:55:09] "The Monster at the End of This Book"
  • [00:56:20] The to be identified 'kite' book.
  • [00:59:59] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
  • [01:01:19] You're always improving in a rejection economy.
  • [01:03:11] Creating a culture where it's okay to be wrong and to learn from it.

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