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Adventures in Learning Podcast -- Season 1, Episode 1

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Welcome to the launch of a brand new adventure. In the spirit of building connections, we are going to be talking to a wide range of fascinating people this season. Each episode will explore adventures in learning from a unique perspective, plus feature interesting children's literature and picture books that will pair beautifully with STEM/STEAM challenges for engaged learning. Expect to hear from teachers, authors, STEM leaders, and more. There might even be a #bestdayever surprise or two in store.

Adventures in Learning Podcast

Show Notes for Episode 1: Adventures with Lynn Wareh Coles

Episode Summary: Science teacher extraordinaire (and long-time friend) Lynn Coles joins the adventure today to talk about connection, community building, and bringing wonder into the science classroom. From insects to sunsets and everything in between, we explore the magic of building classroom and real-world connections — with a sprinkle of picture book recommendations as well! Here's the link to Episode 1.

I've known Lynn for all of our adult lives. We worked together to establish the first AmeriCorps program in North Carolina many moons ago. She even introduced me to my husband. We were in each other's weddings and our kids have grown up as friends. Our family has traveled the world to visit the Coles family on their many Navy adventures and it has been so much fun to follow Lynn's adventures in learning that led her to become a science teacher in Florida. I've had the honor to observe Lynn teach and she is dynamic and engaging. She knows how to build connections with students of all ages, making science interesting and relevant to their lives, providing engaging STEAM challenges to spark their attention, and connecting her teaching back to interesting children's literature. I hope you'll enjoy this peek into our conversation about community building and connections, in the classroom and in the world beyond. (And check out the photo gallery at the end of the post! I might have included some oldies but goodies from our lifetime of adventures in learning in there.)

Full Transcript of Episode 1

Episode Highlights:

0:46 In the first portion of the interview, Lynn and I explore the influence of early childhood ambitions (you’ll love why she didn’t become an entomologist), picture books, and the freedom to explore and get stung on her subsequent journey to become a science teacher. At 06:48, we start delving into how STEM/STEAM first impacted our adventures as teachers and how those connections carry through to our work today.

11:27 Building connections is critical to our success in the classroom — and our success as human beings as well. In this second portion of our conversation, Lynn and I explore the many interesting facets of her own adventures in learning, as well as strategies and tools teachers, parents, and librarians can use to engage student interest.

12:42 “if we want to engage students, we have to interest them and we have to show them that it's meaningful to them. If we want to engage volunteers, it's the same thing. If we want someone to purchase something that costs a lot of money to support their business, it's the same thing. And so the different kinds of things I have done are all about bringing people together for a positive effect on this community we call earth.” I think Lynn captures the idea of building connection beautifully here. If we want people to care about an issue, we have to make it relevant and interesting to them. What are some strategies you use in your classroom, library, or community setting to spark people's interest?

14:28 “So if you have a classroom where they (students) can experience things with their hands, with their minds together with other people and find a way to enjoy that and to see why it's relevant, then you're going to learn without even realizing you're doing so, you know, like we all do as we go through our lives.” This is at the heart of the way I teach, whether it's working with adult learners in professional development or sharing outreach programs with children. It's so important to build connections, to engage learners in collaborative experiences, and to provide room for creative problem solving. STEAM, at its best, does this.

20:30 Picture Book Connections

At this point, if you've followed me on social media or attended one of my workshops, you know that I'm passionate about building connections to diverse picture books. Each week, I'm going to try to feature some different books that you could use to build connections in your own classroom, library, or family setting. Note: As a * affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.You are welcome to use these paid links, but I also encourage you to investigate your local library or independent book store.

Since Lynn brought up wanting to be an entomologist, I highly recommend Buzzing with Questions: the Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner. It's a beautiful picture book biography written by Janice Harrington and illustrated by Theodore Taylor II.

Based on this week’s conversation, some other books that you might be interested in terms of encouraging wonder include:

What's in Your Pocket: Collecting Nature's Treasures by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. This book reminds me so much of the things that Lynn did as a child and is a wonderful vehicle for encouraging children to use the senses to explore the natural world around them.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. It's a great one for your budding scientists and for considering new ways to encourage a sense of wonder and exploration in kids.

A current new favorite of mine is Fairy Science by Ashley Spires, who also wrote The Most Magnificent Thing. Fairy Science is lovely because all the fairies in the woods think that everything happens due to magic and our heroine goes out to prove that science is part of it. And so the scientific process is embedded into this wonderful book about fairies and nature. There's also a new version: Solid, Liquid, Gassy! A Fairy Science Story. It's a great read.

And then finally, the book I referenced when talking about connecting literature to science lessons about water conservation and point and non point source pollution is We Are Water Protectors by Carol Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade. It’s a beautiful book for exploring the power that we all have to be able to protect the water.

22:22 From picture book and science/STEAM connections, Lynn and I explore advice for teachers looking to build connections within the classroom. She includes some great advice she received from her own mentor teachers, as well as the advice she gives to her mentees. Guess what? It’s all about building supportive relationships and connections!

24:44: One of my favorite questions to ask is what brings you joy these days. Lynn offered up a new must-have in her teacher tool-kit: the Seek app from iNaturalist. I’m not sponsored by them, but after Lynn’s recommendation, I've had a blast taking the app for a test run and enhancing my observations on my afternoon nature walk. You simply use the app to take pictures of animals, plants, and insects you observe and the app tells you what species and genus they are, as well as provides more information. There are also fun badges and contests you can play. For me, I found that using the app made me more aware of the diversity of plants and wildlife in the meadow -- what a great tool for encouraging the user to stop and observe and think about the way we are interconnected.

25:45: And we circle back to the wonder of our childhood nature experiences with some thoughts about how wonder enhances our classroom and community connections — as well as makes us happier humans. Lynn offered up some articles that she found helpful in pursuing wonder, and I’m including links to them here:

27:17 The conversation concludes with an unexpected and wonderful response to: What brings you hope? Find out why Lynn’s experience teaching and parenting teenagers has given her deep hope.

I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Thank you, Lynn Wareh Coles, for sharing the wonder and commitment to connection that makes you such an engaging and special science teacher. If you have voices or topics that you would like to see featured in the podcast, please email me at

Please visit to learn more about how I help early childhood and elementary educators and librarians build connections between STEAM and multicultural picture books for engaged learning.

Hey, early childhood and elementary school teachers and librarians -- are you looking for ways to spice up your curriculum, build connections with engaged STEAM learners, and introduce multicultural versions of fairy tales and folk literature? If so, check out my on-demand virtual course, Beyond Ever After.

* Affiliate Program: I love sharing news about children's books, and helping families find great books for their kids. It is my passion, and I spend a great deal of time sharing my thoughts on my social media reels, blog, and podcast. I am a participant in's affiliate program as a way to generate a small amount of income from my work. On each post, I also share links so families can find books at their public library and local bookstores. I also support my favorite independent bookstores, Winchester Book Gallery, Mahogany Books, and Books of Wonder, buying personal books there and sending locals to shop.

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