Marco Molinaro


Marco Molinaro, Ph.D.
Chief Education Officer
CBST, UC Davis, and
Principal Investigator, Windows on research: Focus on Nanotechnology, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley.

Dr. Marco Molinaro has a dual B.S. in Biophysics and Chemistry from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Ever since the early 90's, he has been strongly involved with education and technology.

From 1994 through 1999, Dr. Molinaro was involved in various national efforts (ModularChem Consortium and ChemConnections) to reform the undergraduate curriculum in chemistry utilizing problem-based approaches and technology. During that period, he spent a year as a research fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to research faculty use of technology in instruction.

From 1998 through 2003, he was the founder and director of the ScienceVIEW educational multimedia design, research, and development group at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at UC Berkeley, specializing in creating multimedia materials aimed at teaching and learning science in formal and informal settings. Between his earlier chemistry work and LHS, he has developed more than 15 major CD-ROM and Internet-based products for teachers, students and families. During his tenure as ScienceVIEW director, he also led various research efforts related to educational technology effectiveness including: learning-optimized use of molecular simulations in the classroom, understanding the potential of computer-based data collection for formative assessment in formal and informal learning environments, and developing usability guidelines for creating age appropriate interactive activities on the Internet.

He is currently focusing his attention to communicating the latest research results, and the science behind them, to students from 5 to 100 in both formal and informal settings. At UC Davis he is the Chief Education Officer for the Center for Biophotonics where he is in charge of coordinating all educational activities of the Center including those aimed at K-12, higher education, and the public. At LHS he continues to work as Principal Investigator for the Windows on Research: Focus on Nanotechnology public exhibit project.

Dr. Molinaro is a member of the graduate group in the School of Education at UC Davis. His current and on-going research interests involve: social interactions around technology use in informal and formal science settings, methods for facilitating public understanding of research, and evaluation methods utilizing technology (including back-end and formative tools).


Principles to Practice - Ed Tech Design Challenge
Workshop, Thursday (1:30 - 3:00) in Hall of Ideas E

Utilizing design principles from game and education practices, participants in this workshop will engage in an educational technology design challenge.

Design is a series of trade-offs. Designing educational activities that intrinsically motivate users and support pedagogical goals requires designers to balance features that are at times contradictory. For example, highly engaging features may detract from learning goals. Similarly, a pedagogically-sound design may not be particularly engaging. From our work in designing tech-based educational activities for the museum, where learner's activity is voluntary, our team has explored issues of design from both an educational perspective and a game/play perspective. We routinely draw upon design practices from the videogame industry and the learning sciences community. Our design process includes formative evaluation and iterative design with our users. An on-going goal of our team is to provide other practitioners with principles that are informed by theory and tested in practice.

One of the recent challenges faced by our team was to develop a brief activity to educate kids on the motivations and interests of scientists. Participants of this workshop will propose solutions to this same challenge by learning about general design principles and engaging in a grounded exploration of how these principles apply to the practice of design. We will conclude this session with a presentation of two drastically different designs that our team developed and tested with our audience.

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