background | job duties | proud moments | interests & stories

Sheila Ferguson

First some background

Sheila graduated with Honors from Colorado State University with a B.A. in Anthropology.  While she was working on becoming the next Jane Goodall or Louis B. Leakey, Sheila took a position as a paraprofessional at an elementary school in Fort Collins. Discovering that she loved the creativity, flexibility, and challenges of working sheilawith students, parents, and teachers in the Public School setting, Sheila put her efforts into earning a teaching certificate. She received her certification in August 1988, and immediately became a teacher in the Poudre School District.

In addition to teaching, she began working towards a Masters in Education, which she received from the University of Northern Colorado in May of 1991. Always trying to increase her knowledge of science, Sheila was accepted into a program called CoSTEP–Colorado Science Teacher Enhancement Program, during this time. This required a 3-year commitment, where participants studied Life Science, Environmental Science, and Physical Science. It was during the Physical Science year, that Sheila and the other CoSTEP participants met Brian Jones, Director of Little Shop of Physics. For more on this story, check out “Lunch with Brian Jones.” When a position with Little Shop became available, she applied and was hired! Check out “1st Day Working at Little Shop.” This position involved leasing her from her school district. All in all, Sheila was a teacher in the Poudre School District for 20 years, which included 5 years serving as a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) with Little Shop of Physics. She’s now an official employee of CSU, serving as Little Shop’s Teacher in Residence!


So . . . what does she do as Teacher in Residence?

Little Shop on the Road: Sheila relishes working with the Little Shop college interns, who commit to working two days a week. She says they are truly amazing individuals, and she values their creativity, intelligence, enthusiasm, friendship, and team spirit. One day a week, the crew repairsSheila on top of a bus experiments and builds new projects.  Projects Sheila has built include: Einstein in Dominoes, Eye on Einstein, 3-D Glasses, & Magnetic Sculpture Skillet. The second day, the crew travels to schools to do science with K-12 students & teachers. Check out “Camping with the LSOP Crew.”

Teacher Workshops & Classes: Embracing the Little Shop mission of making science accessible to all, Sheila plans and conducts teacher workshops. She has presented workshops to teachers in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, southeastern Colorado, and the Four Corners area of Colorado. She has also conducted workshops in New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Nevada, and as far away as Belize. She has been part of a team, teaching a summer class called, Weather and Climate for Teachers, and has co-taught a Physics Teaching Experience class for future teachers.

Channel 10–Everyday Science: Poudre School District Channel 10 and Brian Jones of Little Shop of Physics create half hour episodes of a TV show called Everyday Science. The episodes are aired on PSD’s Channel 10 and PBS Channel 6. Sheila helps develop innovative kits, and writes curriculum to support episodes of the Everyday Science TV show. She also presents science experiments on videos about Colorado's watershed. Check out “Adventures in Filming.”


Things that make her proud:

•She’s proud of being a teacher and finds it fascinating to observe how students learn new concepts. This challenges her to create activities and lessons that help make the abstract more real for students and teachers.

•By being a teacher and working for Little Shop of Physics, she feels that she makes a difference every day in the lives of students and teachers, and this is a wonderful thing! Because of her efforts, the 5-E Learning Cycle has been incorporated into the lessons for the CMMAP Weather and Climate Class for Teachers.

sheila•After receiving her Master’s Degree, Sheila couldn’t get enough science, and took 80+ credits, mostly in science.  She received a highly qualified designation in science from her district that permits her to teach at the secondary level.

•Sheila was invited to be a member of a Science Leadership Cadre for the State of Colorado, where the team focused on Science Standard 1–Inquiry.

•She applied for and received several grants to enhance her science teaching, but is most proud of a Classroom Connection Award that acknowledged her creativity, innovation, and dedication.

•Sheila is a published author, as Hubbard Scientific is marketing the videos and kits from 4 Everyday Science TV shows: Electricity, Energy, Pressure, and Motion. She has also co-authored many of the activities for the Weather and Climate Class for Teachers.


Interests & Stories to share:

The list of Sheila’s interests include: science, people, Einstein, traveling, photography, video, art, archaeology, the mountains, reading, swimming, animals, movies, and fun!


Lunch with Brian Jones

During the 3rd Co-STEP year, a fateful event occurred! Four teachers in the program, including me, Sheila, had lunch with Brian Jones at the Ramskellar in the Lory Student Center. Brian was conducting a workshop for us, and we were all very impressed with his approach to teaching. We all had experienced his experiment–filled Open House on the CSU campus as well. While eating lunch, our group suggested that Brian take his program on the road to schools, and he took this suggestion to heart.  Brian told me that we all promised to help him, but I’m the only one who actually did!  Lucky for me!


1st Day at Little Shop

I was so excited and nervous about starting at Little Shop and wanted to make a great impression.  Well, my dog, Caleb, decided to have an adventure with a skunk in the middle of the night. I came to work that first day, not as rested as I had hoped, and paranoid that I didn’t smell the best! Later that day, large thunderstorms broke out. Brian and I jumped into the LSOP van with video camera in hand, and drove around like storm chasers, filming lightning strikes for the Everyday Science TV show. It was one of the most memorable days ever!


Camping with the LSOP crew

Little Shop was scheduled to visit a school in Grand Lake. We either had to get up very early or leave the night before.  So, the four of us on the crew decided it would be fun to camp out in Rocky Mountain National Park the night before. We did have fun setting up our four tents, cooking dinner, and walking around the area.  Then night set in.  It was freezing! Eventually, we all crowded into Adam Beehler’s tent, as it had the most space. Never having camped in an area with elk before, I always thought they bugled just during the day. Well, I discovered that night that they bugle all the time if they feel like it!  It was a very cold and tired crew that set up in Grand Lake the next day.


Adventures in Filming

Jason Unruh and I were filming a segment for the Everyday Science Flight show. The pilot taking Brian up in the airplane had checked with the Fort Collins Airport for us to get permission to film there.  Unfortunately, not everyone was aware of this.  As Jason and I were filming the plane taking off and then landing, we were informed that if we didn’t leave immediately, they were going to call the FBI.  Jason and I packed up quickly and were out of there!



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