Dr. Leon Walls started his career as an electrical engineer, earned a Master’s degree in Education from Marquette University, and also taught middle school science in the Milwaukee Public Schools district. It was in his doctoral program in Geoenvironmental Science Education at Purdue University that Dr. Walls engaged in nature of science learning and discussions. Using this research framework, he began exploring how very young children of color conceive of and understand the practice of science and the role of scientists. Research strongly suggests that possessing an accurate understanding of NOS is an important factor in determining whether students achieve science literacy.
In his widely referenced 2012 study, “Third Grade African American Students’ Views of the Nature of Science,” Walls worked with a sample of African American third grade children in an effort to make science equitable for all students. The study advocated for the use of constant monitoring of student views to construct inquiry-based science lessons and increased research about students of color. In hopes of reversing inequity in science classrooms, he challenges the students in his UVM classes to think about the language and techniques they use to teach science and how to relate all children in discussions.