Richard A Frazier, Ph.D.

niagorehunkids 2
First: Bicycling the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, CO, June, 2018. Second: Walking on Falljökul (“Falling Glacier”) at Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park, July 2018. Third: Surrounded by children in Niagorehun Bagbo, Sierra Leone, July, 2013 on the veranda of our lodging during science camp and teacher workshop on behalf of Schools for Salone <>. More pictures at: <>)
“Learn about pines from the pine–and about bamboo from the bamboo”

For me, these words from the Japanese Haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, capture a most important aspect of learning science. I am excited to be back for my tenth year with the middle school science team at AES and look forward to working with my students in grades 7 and 8. I have been very fortunate in my career having taught (and learned!) science with children and adults in a variety of contexts. Most of my previous teaching has been at the middle level in international and American schools in Saudi Arabia and Singapore, in public schools in the United States, and in local schools in Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer—many years ago.

Our two children grew up overseas (and even survived being students in my 7th grade science courses–smile!). Both family and profession provide perspective on what it means to be a third culture kid, global nomad, transnational child, or whatever term one gives to the children who attend AES.

I have also worked with prospective and in-service teachers in the United States and abroad. Before joining AES in 2010, my position was as an associate professor of science education at a regional comprehensive university in my home state . The teaching interns in my classes interacted extensively with children in science in our local elementary and middle schools. I was granted leave from UCM from 2010 to 2015 and retired from that position.

Professionally, I am very interested in how children learn science. As a bonus to being a science educator, I enjoy exploring the natural world and love discovering more about the plants and animals wherever we find ourselves. All of our middle school science courses have opportunities to explore the incredible biodiversity in India.

I did my undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. My master’s and doctoral degrees are from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign.

Since 2011 I have sponsored the Middle School Hope Club at AES which partners with the corresponding High School Club to serve the students at the Hope Foundation School in Sangam Vihar. The school is sometimes called the Tigri School named for its original location.

From 2017-2018 we tried a new activity, “Science Corps” where students plan, prepare and conduct science activities and investigations with students from local schools where such opportunities are rare. We implemented the idea with children from the Hope School and from an after school program at a school in Malcha Marg (Each One Teach One). We also visited Yamuna Kids, The Blind School, Middle-School Reach Out, and Making A Difference (MAD) at AES. In 2018-2019 we carried out science activities with children in Sanjay Camp. There are new possibilities for partnerships and programs for 2019-2020.

My wife and I were involved in volunteer projects annually from 2005-2013 and in 2016 assisting teachers and schools in post-war Sierra Leone. We had served there as Peace Corps Volunteers 1976-78. Information on previous efforts appears in: , ,,

Two projects my middle school students were involved with in Singapore are linked below:

A Philosophical Toy

New link:

Old link–no longer works:

Singapore Sensory Trail (See pages 39-49 of The Green Teacher, Spring, 2008)

Article published in January, 2014 (National Science Teachers Association journal) about work done at AES:

Science + Art = Enhanced Learning Experiences for Students

By: Richard Frazier and Adele Caemmerer

Science Scope, Jan 14   

Blend art and science to promote student thinking, interaction with phenomena, and diverse modes of expression.

Presentations and abstracts for NSTA conference in Atlanta, March 2018.

The Science of Plants in Fiction, Poetry, and the Movies

Tumbleweeds roll evocatively across the screen in movies depicting the American West. The Chinaberry tree appears frequently in Southern fiction (e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird). Atlanta-born James Dickey, wrote “Kudzu,” a poem about ‘the vine that ate the South.’ The fact that invasive species become cultural icons invites scrutiny from scientific and artistic perspectives. For example, scholars from various disciplines studied plants in the works of Cervantes and drew conclusions about the environment of 16th-17th century Spain. In Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), the life history of Breadfruit is coupled with plot in a tale of plant transfer and empire.  Basho (Japanese poet) advised, “Learn about pines, from the pine; And about bamboo, from bamboo.” His aphorism supports science teaching that emphasizes rich encounters with phenomena, meaningful experience, and a full view of how to investigate the world. Plants in fiction, poetry, film, and all forms of popular culture offer novel relevance and can expand perspectives for students. For science teachers, exploring how scientific disciplines relate to literature/art invites collaboration with colleagues from the humanities. In this session, we will examine examples, tell tales, and find the science. Student work provides evidence that this interdisciplinary approach can be enormously productive.

Google slides presentation:–sXVNvzIAcdBDtsfgRZ0/edit?usp=sharing

Hot Stuff:  Empowering Student Action for Earth

  • Kate Thome Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart–Miami
  • Richard Frazier, Ph.D. American Embassy School–New Delhi

It’s hotter.  Global temperatures shatter records. Rainfall patterns fluctuate. Rising sea level threatens coastal communities.  How do we, as educators, help our students not ‘give up’ on nature in the Anthropocene? This session promotes engagement and affiliation with nature through school and community outdoor experiences. We describe various tools for students to gather and share data. Collecting information within a controlled area like the schoolyard helps develop a sense of place, vital for becoming empowered. Enhancing schoolyard habitats, creating micro-nature sanctuaries and forests, and establishing schoolyard arboretums and nature gardens are all part of an increasingly significant movement to celebrate and protect biodiversity and to bring children into close contact with nature. Focused and repeated observations of plant and animal symbioses help students gain familiarity and confidence in themselves outdoors. Sharing data through platforms such as Project Budburst, eBird, Project Noah and iNaturalist enables students to build communities of learners working to understand the Anthropocene. In keeping with the NGSS, questions arise from data that then lead to new investigations, projects, and service. ‘Give up on nature’? No, our young people need these ‘hands on’ real life activities to help them feel empowered to ‘Act for Nature’ now.

Link to presentation:

Presentations and abstracts for NSTA conference in Nashville, April 2016.

  • Noticing Phenomena or Everyone Knows What a Zebra Looks Like
  • Debatable Demos
  • Philosophical Toys
  • Stories of Symbiosis: An Appealing Path to Dynamic Systems

Presentation abstract for NSTA conference in Boston, April 2014 on work done at AES:

Perception and performance: Investigating the human body

The human body holds immediate interest for students. This workshop introduces phenomena which prove surprising for many and investigations that have no forgone conclusions.

An abundant teaching and learning resource in any classroom is the human body. This workshop introduces investigations that are safe and accessible; all safety concerns are thoroughly addressed. The questions are of interest to scientists, and some are not fully understood, making it possible to engage in genuine scientific practices where an answer is not known in advance. The intrinsic interest the human body holds for students along with the appeal of beginning without a conclusion magnifies student engagement. Investigations can be conducted with any level of technology and implemented in any classroom. Various data collection and analysis techniques can be employed providing a rich context for engaging in and reflecting upon scientific practices. Among the activities and investigations to be examined are: pulse rate and the effect of posture, rest, exercise, and breath meditation; time perception; binocular vision; reaction time; the effectiveness of reflexology and acupressure; ambidexterity and handedness; heat discrimination; weight discrimination; walking straight while blindfolded; parameters of balance; susceptibility to illusions; memory; color perception; unusual illusions (cutaneous rabbit; paradoxical temperature sensations). The phenomena under scrutiny are produced by integrated body systems, and investigations can be used at any point in a study of the human body.

Other articles published in National Science Teachers Association Journals: 

Science Sampler: Conservation of mass and an unsuspected buoyancy effect

By: Somnath Sarkar and Richard Frazier

Science Scope, Jul 08

Over the years, many interesting chemical reactions and activities have been used to illustrate the conservation of mass. The reaction of baking soda and vinegar is a common example. The experimental procedure described in this article presents a special case involving buoyancy where the buoyancy effect is exacerbated by the fact that the reaction container expands as the reaction proceeds and a large volume of air is displaced. The data reported here were gathered at a specific pressure and temperature using a certain type of balloon. Specific values will depend on temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, type of balloon, and the amounts of vinegar and baking soda. However, the relationship among variables should remain the same.

Rethinking Models

By: Richard Frazier

Science and Children, Jan 03

While models and analogies are integral to both the learning and practice of science, their use is complex and potentially troublesome. Misconceptions can arise when parts of a model are misleading, missing, or misapplied. Students begin to look critically at models as they investigate a question of personal interest and develop related lessons for use in a local elementary school. This article suggests techniques you can use to analyze models and describes preservice teachers’ experiences as they critically examined popular models used in many elementary classrooms.

Place-Based Investigations and Authentic Inquiry

By: Somnath Sarkar and Richard Frazier

The Science Teacher, Feb 08

In place-based inquiry, the context of an investigation involves a place about which students already have some interest, curiosity, or knowledge. Their interest makes the application of scientific investigation and inquiry techniques more meaningful because the techniques will be applied in a realistic context, not in an isolated, disconnected, imaginary, and abstract fashion. This strategy elevates hands-on activities to a meaningful level, one that fosters student engagement and with it, purposeful learning.

Book chapter:

Place-based Inquiry: Advancing Environmental Education in Science Teacher Preparation

  • Somnath Sarkar and Richard Frazier (2010) pp. 159-171
  • in
  • The Inclusion of Environmental Education in Science Teacher Education
  • Alec M. Bodzin ● Beth Shiner Klein Starlin Weaver Editors
  • Springer: New York

Ph.D. Dissertation–University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1996):

Ways of working, ways of being: A study of 4 children working in a summer science camp

Vita: rfrazier.fullvita.2014 copy

Selected conference papers:


An extraordinary appetite for science.z


Are you saying this


Breadfruit and rubber in film ppt:




Frazier, R. and Lane, P. (2000). Let Nature Be Your Teacher: An Inquiry into Wild Classrooms. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). New Orleans, LA. April.

Frazier, R. (2002) “You Don ‘t Need to Time It, You Just Need to See It”: Racing in Children ‘s Science <>

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