Chemistry major pursues career as science educator


Meghan Krein

Shannon Sipes, an ASU senior majoring in chemistry, seamlessly transferred from Glendale Community College with the help of the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program. “It reassured me that every course I was taking at community college would apply toward my desired degree. MAPP really took the stress out of planning my schedule each year,” Sipes says.

In addition to working on her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at ASU’s School of Molecular Science, Sipes is also earning her Secondary Education Certificate in chemistry at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She plans to teach middle school science or high school chemistry.

Shannon Sipes

Curiosity ignited

Sipes’ fascination with how products such as medicines and sunscreens are made, coupled with an enthusiastic chemistry professor, yielded her love of science. “After being in my first college chemistry class, I became aware of just how important it is to have a professor who cares so much about their content and students. I knew that being a good teacher would allow me to have a greater impact on my students and help me inspire them to continue learning about science after my class,” says Sipes.

“One of my career goals is to integrate more hands-on and explorative activities when teaching the standards within my classroom, as opposed to a primarily lecture teaching style,” Sipes says. “Overall, I want my students to be engaged with their learning and be able to see how science relates to the real world.

Catering to students' needs 

And she means that quite literally. As a student in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, Sipes completed a project on the issues surrounding science education and Arizona refugees. She worked with college professors to investigate how teachers can accommodate English language learners as well as tailor science lesson plans to meet their needs.

“The entire experience was absolutely wonderful and allowed me to collaborate with several talented and knowledgeable people,” Sipes says. “I learned the importance of using visuals and demonstrations to get ELLs engaged in science, and that explicitly teaching vocabulary is crucial in ELL science education.” Sipes also researched the achievement gap ELLs face, particularly in Arizona, noting, “Programs such as structured English immersion put students at a disadvantage.”

Sipes is the recipient of the Therald Moeller Scholarship, a scholarship established in the 1980s in honor of Emeritus Professor Therald Moeller to support a student in the School of Molecular Sciences with an interest in a career in chemistry.

Find out more about transferring or Barrett, the Honors College to find out how you can follow a path of your own.