WILLIAMSTOWN -- Pine Cobble School announced that Tyler Dewitt will be this year’s graduation speaker, Friday, June 14 at 9:30 a.m. DeWitt is a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also a high school teacher, digital content creator and researcher who advocates the value of good storytelling in science.
In February, the world-famous TED (Technology-Education-Design) Talks website posted a TEDX talk by DeWitt, entitled, "Hey Science Teachers: Make it Fun." Since then, the talk has been viewed over half a million times and has been recommended by TED Talks as one of seven Talks for Inspired Curricula; one of 10 Talks by Inspiring Teachers; and one of 11 Amazing Online Sources for Fun, Interesting Science.
DeWitt’s youtube channel has nearly 20,000 subscribers. The channel features over 100 "video textbook" lessons; topics range from nuclear half-lifes to polyatomic ions to gas stoichiometry to states of matter. Many lessons have gotten tens of thousands of views; some have gotten nearly 200,000 views.
In his TED Talk, DeWitt rails against what he calls the "tyranny of precision," the focus on being so accurate in explaining scientific ideas that the concept loses all meaning for younger learners. "Good storytelling is all about emotional connection," says DeWitt in his TED talk. "We have to convince our audience that what we’re talking about matters.
"Tyler’s work is 100 percent consistent with what we are trying to accomplish at Pine Cobble," head of school Sue Wells said. "Every day, we strive to make learning come alive in new ways. After all, our world is a fascinating place, filled with amazing things to discover. Our goal is to help students see that, to remove all barriers to their curiosity and learning.
"Ultimately, we help guide our students to become lifelong learners who can make connections across a broad landscape of ideas. Tyler is a living model of that approach to teaching and learning, and we are thrilled that he will speak to our students."
At MIT, DeWitt studies how bacteria transfer pieces of DNA to their neighbors. He also teaches science to high school students from underserved backgrounds through the MITES summer program, and he is a student coordinator for the new MIT+K12 video outreach project. He has served as a fellow with the Educational Foundation of America’s Teaching for Experience program; and he is a National Science Foundation Fellow and a Graduate Resident Tutor at MIT.
He has taught high school Biology, Chemistry, and English at independent schools in the United States and South Korea, and he worked as a project manager to develop new K12 science curricula for the state of Florida.