Shawn Carlson, Ph.D.
Leader in STEM Education -

Physicist, Educator, Innovator

"An education in science and technology is nothing less than the power to transform the entire world with a single idea."

                          "Dr. Shawn" Carlson
MacArthur Fellow

Speaker TedX Conference


Brief Overview


Shawn Carlson is a passionate and highly effective innovator in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) education. He is widely recognized for his creativity, visionary leadership, and innovational approaches to empowering young people to achieve excellence in STEM. 

Dr. Carlson’s innovations earned him a MacArthur Fellowship in Science Education. His students affectionately call him, "Dr. Shawn."

Dr. Carlson was instrumental in building the modern citizen scientist movement and has been the creative force behind a number of education and research projects for both adults and children. He founded the Society for Amateur Scientists (SAS) in 1994, wrote "The Amateur Scientist" column Scientific American (over 1 million monthly readers) for six years, and was an early columnist for Make magazine. His innovative approaches to education have helped tens of thousands of young people advance their understanding of science and technology.

Between 2001 and 2007, Dr. Carlson ran "Bright Science. LLC," a successful Internet business for science fair students, and coached many on to take top honors in regional and state-wide competitions. 

In 2007 Dr. Carlson decided to focus all of his efforts towards addressing the science literacy crisis. That same year he became the Executive Director of the SciTech Hands-On Museum in Aurora, Illinois which he ran for three years, during which time he dramatically cut expenses and increased both customer satisfaction and overall attendance.  

In 2010 Dr. Carlson left SciTech to found the LabRats Science Education Program(TM)The goal of LabRats is to build a national youth program that Dr. Carlson describes as "Scouting for kids who like science." The program is currently looking for financial support.  Like the Scouts, LabRats members will meet once each week in a merit-based system of advancement that builds tight-knit learning communities that are focused on community service and mutual support.  Only instead of campfires and square knots LabRats members learn science and technology.  

To promote collaboration in real science between LabRats mentors and members Dr. Carlson designed the platform.  

In 2013 Dr. Carlson introduced Engagement Education(TM)—a revolutionary and highly effective approach to STEM education that applies cutting-edge insights from Cognitive Psychology and Persuasion Science to inspire secondary and high school students to enthusiastically take on the challenge of achieving adaptive expertise in STEM.  

In the video below, Dr. Carlson narrates a Powerpoint introduction to Engagement Education for teachers.  

Engagement Education
 focuses on building positive emotional connections between each learners and what they are learning (Intellectual Engagement), between learners and their peers (Social Engagement), and between learners and their adult caregivers (Custodial Engagement). It also includes a novel "presence of mind"-based approach to classroom management called "Open-Palms Discipline," in which teachers are trained not to react with anger, but rather to view every transgression as an opportunity to strengthen the emotional connection between the rule-braker and the caregiver.

Also in 2013 Carlson introduced Persuasion Learning, a 21st Century approach to building morale and strengthening commitment for an educational program's students, educators, staff, and parents.    

Together, Engagement Education and Persuasion Learning are the foundation of the LabRats system of instruction.  

Along the way Dr. Carlson has also written numerous books and articles and has lectured extensively on topics related to inspiring people of all ages to love learning about science and technology and to become productive citizen scientists themselves.

Dr. Carlson is remains the creative force behind LabRats, the iDoScience research collaboration platform, and is the teaches seminars and workshops on Engagement Education and Open-Palms Discipline. He also co-chair of the California After school Network's STEM Task Force.  

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