Don’t tell Heather Moore that girls can’t succeed in the sciences. The senior physics major from Rochester, N.Y., knows better, and she is determined to make all forms of science accessible and enjoyable to girls as well as boys, by dedicating herself to a career in secondary education.
“I’ve always wanted to teach,” she said. “My strength is in subjects that are analytical, so my plan is to teach physics at the high school level. I want to show students, especially girls, that they can become effective problem solvers. If you can do physics, you can attack all kinds of problems.”
Moore’s passion for teaching is reflected in her two-year stint as president of The College of Wooster’s Physics Club, particularly its outreach program, which exposes elementary students to the sciences through demonstrations and experiments conducted at schools in the area. “I think it’s really important that we provide a good experience for these students,” said Moore, who is also pursuing a minor in mathematics. “We want to help them discover their strengths in the sciences.”
Moore first heard about Wooster in the spring of her junior year from a former high school classmate, Margaret Howland, who graduated from the College in 2008. That same week, Moore’s mother had a conversation about Wooster with an alumnus and co-worker at Kodak, where she is a regulatory chemical specialist in health, safety, and the environment. At the end of that week, Moore and her mother made a stop in Wooster on their way home from a visit to another Ohio college. One look, and Moore was hooked. “I was so impressed by how gorgeous the campus was,” she said. “I remember saying to myself, ‘would I ever get tired of this?”
The answer was a resounding “No” as she made her way around campus with stops in the physics and music departments. Just to be sure, she visited the campus one more time as a senior, giving her father an opportunity to look it over, and that was enough to convince both of them that Wooster was the place for her.
Since those initial visits, Moore has flourished in every phase of campus life. In addition to excelling academically, she has distinguished herself musically as a member of the Scot Marching Band, the Scot Symphonic Band, and the Clarinet Trio. She has also been a member of the South Asia Committee and the Gallows, a chemical-free sketch-comedy group.
“It’s been a very good experience,” she said. “I really like the intimacy of the physics department and the relationship with the professors. There is an atmosphere of mutual respect. The professors support the students at all levels and encourage them to pursue their personal interests. It’s a great environment all the way around.”
Before long, Moore will leave her comfort zone, but she plans to take all that she has learned at Wooster with her. “I hope to teach high school physics in Germany in the fall,” she said. “I’m taking a course in German this semester so I will be ready.”
Moore’s decision to teach overseas has also been influenced, in part, by her experience at Wooster. “I’ve always enjoyed the international flavor of Wooster,” she said. “I’m good friends with many international students, and I’m interested in seeing education from a different cultural perspective. I like to learn how people think, and immerse myself in their culture.”
Eventually, Moore plans to return to the United States, earn her master’s degree, and continue teaching at the high school level. Wherever she winds up, John Lindner, professor of physics at Wooster and advisor to the Physics Club, is confident that she will be successful. “Heather is a natural leader and an inspiration for those fortunate enough to be in her orbit,” he said. “She gets things done and makes things happen. She loves the high school age group and will excite many high school students to succeed in science with her can-do attitude and charisma.”
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