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About XSci What we believe...

At XSci, we create and research experiential programs...simply put, we live and breathe experiential science. Experiential science learning is all about personal close encounters with the content, processes, and emotions of science. It is a philosophy that emphasizes learning from direct first-person experience and a holistic perspective that includes the self-construction of knowledge as well as emotions, attitudes and beliefs that combine to form a learner’s “science identity.”

Our Purpose

Our purpose is to uncover the ways educators construct extraordinary science learning experiences for themselves, their students, and their peers. To do this, we design, conduct, and research the impacts of several types of teacher experiences.

“The best teachers have great personal stories” We recognize the importance of students and teachers co-constructing positive science identities through experiential learning as a critical pathway towards confident teacher practice & student science literacy. Creating these opportunities is what we do.

  • If it’s worth doing, it’s worth filming.
    Teacher made documentaries provide an excellent outlet for reflection as well as provide us with a rich research tool.
  • Aspire to inspire before you expire.
    This is why we do what we do! Send someone on an adventure and they will be inspired. Send a teacher, and they will inspire others.
  • There are no bad ideas, there is only bad execution.
    Timing is everything. An idea maybe great, but if it’s the wrong time or the wrong team executing it, then it quickly turns bad.
  • Try, Try again.
    If you don’t like the answer you get then ask someone else or ask it in a different way. But never stop searching, never stop finding your own answers.
  • Life’s extraordinariness is determined by individual interpretation.
    No one journey is the same, even if you don’t go it alone.
  • Stories provide us with our identities.
    Every story we tell represents a small piece of us, and the best teachers have great personal stories.

Meet the Team

  • Teresa McLain

    Co-Director

    As Co-Director and previous VP of Marketing & Strategy, Teresa brings an enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, and creative talent to XSci. Working with dozens of companies over the past 14 years, she has chalked up an impressive record of marketing, strategy, and PR leadership, creating unique opportunities for her clients and empowering businesses to thrive in competitive environments.

    In 1999, Teresa joined the team at MAC Arts, a multimedia development company; she helped the company snag NASA as an anchor client in work on the human space flight program. This work included the design, production, PR, promotion and distribution of a variety of print, electronic, and broadcast media marketing and the negotiation of deals with CBS News, CNN, and MSNBC.

    Post MAC Arts, Teresa led creative and marketing teams at Dalbey Education Institute, providing direction regarding product development requirements, design, and implementation. She has extensive expertise in creating, implementing and measuring the success of a comprehensive marketing, communications and public relations programs, internal and external communications; and editorial direction, design, production and distribution of publications. After leaving Dalbey Education, Teresa joined forced with BMGI to run all national and international marketing efforts before moving on in 2008.

    After 14 years of international marketing and documentary work, Teresa maintained her interest in working with kids. As the founder of GirlSpire and published author, Teresa still finds her greatest reward lies with working with young girls to provide a roadmap for building a strong foundation in a fun and interactive way that young girls ages 8 to 11 can understand and latch on to. GirlSpire is engages girls in this age group inviting them to work through hands on activities and walk away with the tools needed to build that foundation.

    GirlSpire was born out of the confluence of Teresa’s unique journey and perspective, and the urgent need every girl faces as they pass through one of life’s most difficult stages. It is an experiential integration of self-empowering life skills and attitudes into an exciting and thrilling personal journey.

    In partnership with XSci and the University of Colorado at Boulder, GirlSpire continues to provide program and workbooks to young girls all over Colorado.

  • Brad McLain, Ph.D.

    Co-Director

    Brad McLain is a social scientist and co-directs the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative (XSci) at CU Boulder. Dr. McLain’s research focuses on identity development in relation to STEM learning and career pathways, including the nature and impacts of extraordinary experiences and how such experiences may change our sense of self and life trajectories at different ages. McLain has served as Principal Investigator on several research and project grants funded by both government and corporate entities. He also has extensive experience in informal science education and formal science education and teacher professional development. Dr. McLain is also a research scientist with the National Center for Women & IT, participating in research, resources and strategies that organizations can use towards diversification and inclusion in workplace environments.

    Prior, Dr. McLain was an assistant professor of Education at the University of Colorado Denver, an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute, a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry, a NASA educational lead for the Space Shuttle Program, the Office of Biological and Physical Research, and the Space Science Mission Directorate, and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He is also an accomplished filmmaker, having produced and directed three documentary features and dozens of short films. Dr. McLain serves on the Board of Directors for the Jane Goodall Institute, STEM Space, and the Lake Travis STEM Academy. He was Co-founder of the Xperience STEM conference and www.MySTEMLink.com and is a nationally recognized speaker. His TEDx and TEDx Youth talks can be found online.

  • Tamara Alexandra

    Project Manager

    Tamara is the Project Manager for XSci, and focuses on our STEMLink programs. Tamara earned a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and Anthropology from the University of Northern Colorado, and continues to pursue her education in project management but also computer science. Tamara started with XSci as an intern and worked her way in to project management, prior to XSci she worked in marketing at MAC Arts working on contracts involving NASA and the NSF. When she is not working hard bringing educators and industry together she spends her time outdoors with her pups.

  • Mark Archer

    Videographer

    Videographer and editor Mark Archer hails from Springfield Massachusetts and has worked in the industry for the past 15 years. His work includes producing video and interactive applications for a wide variety of clients in a diverse range of industries such as aerospace, consumer electronics, finance and education. Utilizing experience in multiple production roles and bringing interest from many areas such as business, music, history and science allow Mark to offer a full pallet of abilities that have earned him industry accolades, and the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients creating everything from branding materials to documentary films.

    A personal interest in science, storytelling and teaching has led Mark to concentrate on the educational sector, including the NASA produced Space Research And You project, his first of many endeavors with Director Brad McLain, McLain Arts and Inspire Me! Films. The project was a ground-breaking interactive documentary designed for museums across the country and utilized live performers along with digital elements to create a unique and engaging new style of “edutainment.” The project earned the team a distinguished place in the Computerworld/Smithsonian Honors program, “The Search for New Heroes” an international collection of examples of innovation in technology.

    Mark has lent his background and enthusiasm to clients such as BAE Systems, LEGO Educational, Tama Drums, Lenox Tools, The National Science Foundation, Virtual Brands and Speakercraft in addition to many science education projects with Space Science Institute, McLain Arts and Xsci, the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative at the University of Colorado Denver. His videography and editing has contributed to a myriad of projects including Space-Faring: The Radiation Challenge, Giant Worlds, 2006 VideoMaker/Sony Best Educational Video winner Alien Earths and also the STEPS Project, an NSF project that created the Science Theater Educational Programming System. This application allows museums and science centers to create interactive media-rich presentations and includes three actor/educator facilitated shows based on astrobiology topics.

    His involvement in science education has taken Mr. Archer to great heights. From Zero-G to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Twice. His most recent contribution is as Editor and one of the Principal Photographers of Inspire Me! Africa, a full-length documentary that follows a group of intrepid teachers to Tanzania on the trip of a life-time. The film looks closely at the process of transferring the inspiration of real life experiences back to the students that these teachers will encounter over their careers.

  • Mellissa Lewis

    Camp Counselor

    Mellissa is a veteran biology, earth science, biotechnology and astronomy teacher. She holds several master’s degrees in education, cultural diversity, and biology. She will begin working towards her PhD in education this fall.
    Carrying endorsements in science, math and physical education, she has vast experience in working with young adults. Her enthusiasm and passion for teaching have won her several awards in the field of science education.

    Mellissa’s teaching experience reaches far beyond the science classroom.
    Growing up on the back of a horse, she has gained valuable experience and knowledge in ranching, training, showing, and rodeo. She has been teaching horsemanship and trick riding for over twenty years. She spent ten years as a volunteer instructor for the Westernaires – a youth riding organization in Jefferson County Colorado. She has also dedicated her time and expertise as an instructor for the Fellowship of Rodeo Christian Cowboys.

    Her love of horses and talent has given her the opportunity to travel across the United States and Canada performing at several horse shows and rodeos including appearances at Cheyenne Frontier days, Senior National Finals Rodeo, National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Dodge City Round Up, The Kansas City Royal, Indiana State Fair, Colorado State Fair, and a special guest performance for the Summit of the Eight. She also spent a year on tour with Cirqu du Sole’s – Cavalia.

    Outside of teaching and riding she works as a personal trainer. She is also an outdoor enthusiast, she has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, toured the Serengeti, and worked in aids orphanages while in Africa. Mellissa spends her weekends hiking, riding, running and exploring the great unknown.

  • Boone Scharp

    Camp Counselor

    After many paths down dead-end, adventurous, bumpy two tracks, Boone Scharp found his calling late in life as a High School Science Teacher in the wilds of Northern Lower Michigan. Boone teaches from his heart with relevant content-rich stories, adventure-curriculum, and a hands-on project-based style, ripe with team-building skills and rule-breaking fearlessness. Some of his students have made note of his teaching style by commenting,

    “Boone has the curiosity and sense of adventure similar to that of a young boy trapped in a grown mans body”. Outside of his successful professional career, Boone can be found working on his small family farm, taking adventures with his wife and daughter, or with his students and the Outdoor Adventure Club on rock climbing, winter camping, canoeing, backpacking, caving, or survival skill adventures. Boone is known throughout the world for his spider sniffing skills, ability to speak fluent “hippo”, willingness to take risks, and relentless quest for learning new things.

  • Bethany Pierzecki

    Camp Counselor

    Beth (Swartz) Pierzecki is a Seasoned Educator from Metro Detroit Michigan. Growing up at a young age she was encouraged to explore by both her parents and soon was enveloped in a world of science adventure and exploration. By the time she was ten, she was already participating in Winter Outdoor Survival Camps and Science Camp for Girls throughout her teenage years. This love of “hands-on and feet dirty” learning is what help lead her to becoming a science and math teacher. Her current favorite project is monitoring a local river with her students and having them hatch, raise, and release Chinook salmon during the school year. When she is not inspiring young minds in her classroom, she loves being outdoors—gardening, hiking, camping, and boating all over Michigan.

    Beth’s educational and personal travels have taken her across country and the world to Africa, Mexico, and Germany. From a close moose encounter in Wyoming, zip-lining past Howler monkeys in a rainforest in Mexico, to a walking Safari in Africa for elephants, she is a magnet for extra escapades and does not shy away from a challenge. She is looking forward to supporting and guiding campers with both physical and emotional journeys they encounter in their experiences this summer!