Science Education Leads to Governor’s Award for WSU Physics Professor

OGDEN, Utah – For six years, Weber State University physics professor Adam Johnston has made science fun for thousands of children with his engaging Science in the Parks summer series. He also helped establish a national conference for science education reform, called Science Education at the Crossroads.

Gov. Gary Herbert, along with the state science advisor and the State Advisory Council on Science and Technology, has honored Johnston as one of this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology in the category of Science Education.

“I think that, at its heart, science is really playful, and I enjoy sharing that experience with others: teachers, students, kids and parents,” Johnston said. “Younger children already have a good sense for this, but college students have often forgotten, and it’s a great experience to engage them again.” 

The Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology are awarded to individuals and organizations that have provided distinguished service or made significant contributions to advancing scientific knowledge, education and industry in Utah and the nation.

“I’m really privileged to have a job where I get to figure out how nature works and then figure out how to get other people to understand it for themselves,” Johnston said. “I’m honored that some projects I’m really passionate about are seen as important to a broader community.” 

Johnston teaches courses in general physics and science education. He was nominated for the governor’s award by his former student, Matt Smith, who himself is now a science teacher.

Johnston’s research interests center in how others learn science concepts and processes, leading to publications in journals such as “American Educational Research Journal,” “Science Education,” and “Children, Youth and Environments.”

Before coming to WSU, Adam earned his doctoral degree in science education and his master’s degree in physics from the University of Utah. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.

The award ceremony will take place Jan. 17 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Discovery Gateway children’s museum (444 W. 100 S., Salt Lake City).

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Adam Johnston, physics professor 
801-626-7711 •
Allison Barlow Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •